Critter of the Week: Scutellosaurus

Meet Skittles.  She might be all hard and pebbly on the outside, but on the inside she wants nothing more than a nice warm hug.  Scratch just a little in between those rocky scutes, and she’ll roll on her back so you can rub her smooth, soft belly scales.


Skittles is happy to see you!  She wonders if you would please, pretty please, give her a treat.  Can you resist those puppy-dog eyes?

She may be about the size of a golden retriever, but believe it or not, Skittles here is the great-great-great-great-grandmother of Stegosaurus!

It’s hard to imagine how long a time span the Jurassic period covers, but we can get a few hints when we see that a little critter like this had enough time to change and diversify into animals like the spike-tailed Stegosaurus, or the armored, club-tailed Ankylosaurus.

The Jurassic period started at the end of the Triassic period (big extinction event there, to separate the two), and lasted 56.3 million years until the beginning of the Cretaceous.

56.3 million years.  Think about that.  Humans have been around for about 2 million.  Between us and the latest dinosaurs like T-rex?  About 65 million years.

So that means Dinosaurs had their “golden age” in the Jurassic for almost as long as the nearest T-rex is to us.  Pretty mindboggling.

And that’s not even thinking about the Triassic and Cretaceous periods yet…

Dinosaurs have been around for a looong time (especially if you count birds living today!).

Skittles is just happy to have a few moments to cuddle. 🙂  Completely oblivious to how long dinosaurs have been around.  Or that she’s related to Steggy. 😛

Making progress…

Skittles finally got an update!  The original was based directly off of Scott Hartman’s skeletal, and I didn’t really feel comfortable copying it so directly when all the art on this site is supposed to be my own (plus that’s technically copyright infringement.  Don’t want to do that).

Not to mention that my skill and style has developed since I first uploaded her!  If you like, I may post something about my process for this one.  It made a huge difference making a little Skittles out of clay, then using the little model for reference.  Can you tell? 😛

Here’s the original, just for comparison. 😀


Coming Next Week…

This critter is furry, loves to swim, and has a flat, sorta scaly paddle tail…Is she even in the right time period?! 😉

Share your guess in the comments! She’ll be one of the critters over on the critter page. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Critter of the Week: Scutellosaurus

  1. Nice article on Scutellosaurus and Stegosaurus. It would be nice for a future article to clarify which dinosaurs walked semi-upright on two legs and which dinosaurs walked primarily on four legs. Enjoyed the article.


    1. Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your kind comment. 🙂

      I don’t think I could fit all that in one article, there are too many dinosaurs!

      In general though, small arms, or forelimbs, compared to the back legs suggests it walked on its hind legs.

      In other cases paleontologists look at the strength of the shoulder and limb bones, or trackways if those are available.

      Plateosaurus, which is an early “sauropodomorph” (in the “long-neck” group), was traditionally reconstructed as either on all fours, or equally happy either on four or two.

      Now with further study of the arm, wrist, and hand bones we know that Plateosaurus was most comfortable on its hind legs.

      They can’t turn their wrists like we can, so if they went down on all fours, they would be putting weight on delicate hand and wrist bones.

      For one more example, we can look at giant, specialized sauropods like Diplodocus.

      It seems obvious that it’s a quadruped, but trackways show that they carried almost all of their weight on the hind legs. Front footprints can be hard to find, and when we do find them, they are very shallow compared to the rear footprints.

      So are they quadrupeds, or bipeds whose arms are long enough to touch the ground? 😛

      Hmm…perhaps I should write a post on this after all. 😀 Thank you! 🙂


  2. Aww, I love Skittles! She’s probably one of my new favorites. xD I couldn’t tell that you based it after a clay sculpture at first, but now that you mention it, I can see how! I would love to see the clay model. :3


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