Kentrosaurus, meaning “pointed lizard”, is a genus of stegosaur dinosaur from the Late Jurassic Period of what is now Tanzania. It is related to the better known Stegosaurus of North America. It was discovered in the Tendaguru Formation from the Kimmeridgian stage from 156 to 151 million years ago. It was first described by Edwin Hennig in 1915. The type species is K. aethiopicus. It is currently the only known species, however, fossil fragments discovered in a bone bed in North America, may be a species of Kentrosaurus as well.
Although originally named Kentrosaurus, a controversy over its name became an issue when it was brought to attention that it was similar to the name of a ceratopsian dinosaur given the name Centrosaurus. Under the rules of the ICZN, two animals may not be given the same name. In 1916 the Kentrosaurus was renamed to Doryphorosaurus by Franz Nopcsa, but was also renamed to Kentrurosaurus by Hennig. However it was later shown that because Centrosaurus was pronounced with a soft “˜C’, that Kentrosaurus was perfectly fine to use. Doryphorosaurus and Kentrurosaurus were unneeded and dropped. Kentrosaurus became the valid name.
Kentrosaurus was about 13.25 feet in length and weighed about 700 pounds. Like Stegosaurus, Kentrosaurus had a double row of plates running down the spine. However, the two differed in size and shape of the armor plating and also body flexibility. Kentrosaurus also had spikes that protruded from the back about midway along the spine, and it also had spikes on its flanks. The huge armor plates that exist on both Stegosaurus and Kentrosaurus were only used for thermal heat regulation in Stegosaurus. Kentrosaurus plates were used mostly for display purposes, or perhaps self-defense. Its tail may have been used as a weapon to ward off attackers by lashing it from side to side. The spikes along the flanks would have also protected it from attacks.
Kentrosaurus was a herbivorous dinosaur. It had small, spade-shaped cheek teeth. The teeth were less complex than those of other stegosaurid creatures. This dinosaur was not able to browse on grass, as grasses did not evolve until the Cretaceous Period, long after Kentrosaurus became extinct. They were, however, low-level browsers and ate foliage and low-growing fruit from various plants. It may have been able to rear up on its hind legs and forage at higher levels as well.
Kentrosaurus also had no pronounced spines on its backbone, hip, and tail region, unlike those of Stegosaurus. The length of the thigh bone compared to the rest of the leg may indicate that Kentrosaurus was a very slow and inactive dinosaur. Although being able to rear up on its hind legs, it was a fully quadrupedal traveler.
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