Critter of the Week: Stegosaurus

Meet Steggy.  She might not have very much of a brain, but she makes up for that with the softness of her heart.  There’s not a whole lot that’ll surprise her (thanks to Pete’s training), and she’ll let just about anybody clamber on her back. 🙂


I say “just about” anybody, because there was that one time some kids wanted her to be their fortress in a water balloon battle.  That was a bit too much for Steggy.  But that class of preschoolers who came to visit were adorable.  Steggy just sat there and let them climb all over her (Pete stuck a few tennis balls on her spikes, so they wouldn’t be so sharp).  The kids had a great time painting stars and hearts on her big plates.

Steggy’s pretty mellow because of all the surprise games and “scary new things” Pete does with her.  Like horses, Stegosaurus tend to be nervous around anything new.  Like training a race horse to ignore the noise of the crowd and the track, Steggy here’s been trained to not freak out when she sees something new or something jumps out of the bushes.

That small brain (just one, and about the size of the average dog brain) means that Stegosaurus tend to be more reactive, you see.  More temperamental and aggressive when they’re surprised, nervous, or scared.  And they’re fast with that tail!

That tail is a spiked mace of pure muscle, and most Stegosaurus have a “swing first, don’t ask questions” sort of attitude.

But once Steggy figured out that Pete is just going to throw new stuff at her all the time, she learned to just not be surprised.

Here’s a peek into her thought process…

A giant stuffed bear in the crook of a tree?  Huh?  Weird.  Leaves are tasty…

Neon flags waving along the fence line?  What’s that! Ooh…pretty. (steps closer, takes a cautious bite out of a green one) Ooh, they taste funny.

A big, inflatable Halloween spider sitting in a corner of the pasture.  Monster?! Wait…monster? (stares at it for a while) Hmm…not coming closer…What’s for breakfast?


Making progress…

It’s Steggy’s turn for an update! 🙂

Just like Twig needed an update last week, I’ve known Steggy was in need of an update for a while.  Her plates are still bugging me, but at least she has the correct number of claws on her toes, eyes to match the new style, and corrected spikes on her tail.

But wait a second, back in the Art & Science of Steggy, I said that her spikes should be held horizontally, not upright like a V.

That was the general consensus before this description of a beautifully preserved stegosaurus came out.  Some still argue that it’s unsure which way Steggy’s spikes are positioned, but after seeing the illustration of the bones in situ, I’m a convert to the “old” V shape.

In the illustration, the tail spikes are lying right on top of and parallel to each other.  I can’t imagine them ever being preserved that way if they were anything but in a sort of swept back “V” in life.

So Steggy’s spikes got a makeover.  I really need to construct a little model to fix her plates.  My brain has a bit of trouble figuring out how to draw those things. 😛  They should not appear like a double row as they do here.  Instead, the plates should be in one row along the spine, and tip out towards the side a little in an alternating pattern.

The photo of the Stegosaurus described in the paper (find it here) illustrates what I need to change beautifully. 🙂

Here they are, just for comparison. 🙂

The more I looked at this one the more I didn’t like it.
I like the new colors much better. 🙂 Seeing a Stegosaurus would’ve been like seeing a rhinoceros on safari.  Uncommon and usually alone, or very small family groups.  Also not too bright, probably not the best vision, and a very bad idea to sneak up on one!  The light and dark stripes make Steggy look a lot bigger than she is, and the spikes are a brightly colored warning to back off.

Just for fun, here are a few of Steggy’s cousins who live in the same neighborhood. 🙂  They’re older drawings, so the tail spikes may be wrong.

hesperosaurus copy
spiketails copy
Two species of Stegosaurus in the Morrison formation!  The now famous Sophie specimen (described in the paper linked above) is a S. stenops, Steggy’s wild cousin.  S. ungulatus is a larger relative.



Coming Next Week…

This shy giant will do anything for his special person, even if it means getting out of his comfort zone.

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

7 thoughts on “Critter of the Week: Stegosaurus

  1. You got it! Elmer is next up 🙂

    I figured it was you, but it would be hard to tell if I start getting more comments. Thank you for chatting with me! 😀

    Steggy’s wild relative is Stegosaurus stenops. It’s a good size for possible domestication, and least in the book’s universe. If Stegosaurus were still around, I think they’d be one of the least likely to domesticate. 🙂


  2. I knew it was Steggy! I like the idea of Steggy being a not-that-intelligent creature while still being adorable! I like this new version than the old one.And Rosie already booked her ride to the COTW train next week.


    1. Thank you for stopping by! Im glad you like her. I like her a lot now too with her new colors. 🙂

      Oops, I forgot to edit the text for the link. But it’s not Rosie. Next up on the COTW train is a shy giant. You can find “him” at the critter page. 😉


      1. Then it’s Elmer? And just to let you know that this is still Kaprosaurus commenting every COTW,I just thought that you maybe dont know that it’s still me,I dont put my name on it anymore,so it’s just anonymous.
        What species of Stegosaurs is Steggy,there are four and I dont know them by appearance.:)


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