The genus Kentrosaurus is a genus of ornitischio-stegosaurid dinosaurs that lived approximately 150 million years ago, in the Jurassic Period.
The name of the genus Kentrosaurus comes to mean “spiny lizard”, and can be understood by the large number of bony spines protruding from its back. Due to this characteristic, it is one of the specimens within the stegosaurus, just like the famous Stegosaurus that gave name to the group, but with the difference that the Kentrosaurus had spines while the Stegosaurus were big plates.
Due to the similarity of its name, it can be confused with the Centrosaurus, but these are different dinosaurs.
Basic Information about Kentrosaurus
Kentrosaurus belongs to the dinosaur genus of the stegosaurid thyrophores. These dinosaurs were characterized by having an armor in the dorsal and upper body, usually covered by horns or spines.
- How long are they? – About 4 meters long.How tall are they? – This dinosaur is about 5 feet tall like an average person.
- What is its weight? – The Kentrosaurus weighed about 320 kilograms.
- When did it live? – This dinosaur inhabited the Earth more than 152 million years ago, around the end of the Jurassic period.
- What is its family? – The Kentrosaurus is in the family of Stegosauridae, the so-called Stegosaurids.
The taxonomy of the Kentrosaurus
Kingdom Animalia > Filo Chordata > Class Sauropsida > Superorder Dinosauria > Order Omithischia > Suborder Thyerophora > Suborder Stegosauria > Subfamily Stegosauridae > Genus Kentrosaurus
Within the genus Kentrosaurus we can only differentiate one species, the K. aethiopicus.
The family: stegosaurus
The Kentrosaurus belong to the family of stegosaurids, and they inhabited the Earth from the end of the Jurassic period until the Cretaceous period. Let’s see the main characteristics of the stegosaurus.
First of all, it must be emphasized that this type of dinosaur was abundant and spread all over ancient Pangaea.
This species evolved from the most primitive ones, which hardly had any small plates on the dorsal part of their bodies, with some small spines, to having large rows of plates, with quite respectable spines and even large spikes on both shoulders.
These had longer hind limbs than the previous ones, no premaxillary teeth, and their skulls were usually long and low.
Their plaques, together with their spines and the complexion of this dinosaur, made it protect itself in a very efficient way. So far there are not many remains found of this dinosaur, recently remains of stegosaurids have been found around the lower part of the Morrison Formation.
The Morrison Formation is a very famous area because of the large amount of fossil deposits it has provided, mainly from the Jurassic period.
In 2012, footprints of this species were found for the first time in Europe, more specifically in the area of the Ruta de las Icnitas in Soria (Spain), as it was discovered by a group of researchers from the University of Zaragoza
According to the researchers, most of the stegosaurid family had an herbivorous diet, mainly consisting of low plants such as ferns, pineapples, mosses, etc.
It is also said that they were all quadrupeds, and that generally the species that were within this family used to go in herds, in order to protect themselves, and as soon as they spent time in one place, they used to move around in search of food.
Description of Kentrosaurus
Their complexion at the time of attack was not very favorable, but it was not necessary for them to attack in order to defend themselves, since at the time of protection they were very favorable, their small head along with dorsal protected with plates and spines, made them a very defensive dinosaur.
On his head he also possessed a small horn, which helped him to cut the leaves for food, and together with his many small teeth, he crumbled all the leaves. He also possessed a large stomach, in which he could store enough food, for the times when it was more difficult for them to find places with enough plants.
With his teeth he managed to crumble the leaves, but he could not chew them because his teeth were in the shape of a leaf, for this he ate stones, called gastrotrocytes which performed a process similar to chewing, but inside the stomach.
It is believed that this dinosaur attacked from behind, as the thorns it possessed through its back and tail were directed backwards. But as we commented before, it was not necessary for him to attack by covering himself under his plates and thorns, when the predators arrived it was enough to cause great injuries to them.
Where and when did the Kentrosaurus live?
Where did the Kentrosaurus live? – These dinosaurs are almost the most ancient, although there are many before them, there are many after them. They were on Earth during the Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago.
They were mainly found over the area of Tanzania (Africa), although some researchers indicate that they could have inhabited other areas, due to signs of footprints and some bone remains. For example, the area of present-day Europe.
The Kentrosaurus period: the Jurassic
208 million years ago the Jurassic period began, when Pangaea began to break up. At that time the climate was warm and uniform, but with constant rains, which made the vegetation grow considerably, and with it the dinosaurs that were herbivores also increased in number considerably, because of the great amount of food that they had at their disposal.
The Jurassic period consists of 3 phases: Lower, Middle and Upper, known in English as Lias, Dogger and Malm.
The fauna that populated the planet was already very varied, there were many kinds of crustaceans in the sea, and also many insects of which we can find on Earth today. Yes, insects that we know today as moths, beetles, flies, termites or grasshoppers, these already lived together millions of years ago with the dinosaurs.
At the end of the Jurassic, there were real forests, in which the first ancestors of the birds appeared, which still did not have feathers at that time. You can say that during this period, dinosaurs dominated the earth greatly and their different families spread out.
What do Kentrosaurus eat?
The Krentosaurus have an herbivorous diet, mainly based on rough and short plants. They had to be short, because they had to constantly walk on all fours due to the great weight of their bodies and their back legs were longer than the front ones.
Though researchers say that this dinosaur could sometimes stand on its own in a bipedal way to reach plants which were at a certain height.
Something also important in its diet, is what we commented previously, the horn in its head that it used to cut the leaves, along with its leaf-shaped teeth and the stomach stones that and the gastrotrotrocytes that it ingested to facilitate digestion and chewing.
Who discovered the Kentrosaurus?
This dinosaur was found by 3 paleontologists, although the genus was named by Edwin Henning in the year 1915, although the discovery of this dinosaur was somewhat earlier, in the German expedition of the years 1909 to 1912, this was made in the area of Tanzania and was one of the most important fossil findings.
It was so important because it gave rise to the demonstration of the relationship between Tanzania and the Morrison Formation, regarding the proximity between them, more specifically in the Rocky Mountain area (Asia).
During this expedition, a total of two skeletons were found, one of which was destroyed over the years, since it was in the Humboldt Museum of the University of Berlin and during the Second World War it was shot down and everything inside was destroyed, including the skeleton of the Kentrosaurus.
This German expedition found about 1100 bones of this dinosaur, which they believe would belong to about fifty individuals of this dinosaur species.
Even though no complete skeleton of this dinosaur was found, most of the bones that were discovered together, as well as some hips, quite a few dorsal vertebrae, an almost complete tail, and many limb elements of these dinosaurs.
More about one of the discoverers
Edwin Henning was one of the most famous discoverers of the Kentrosaurus, in fact the most famous as he was the one who named this dinosaur. Henning was born on April 27th, 1882 in Germany, he had 4 brothers and his father was a merchant, and he died when Henning was only 10 years old, which left him and his 4 brothers alone with their mother, who had to go through a lot of trouble to get the family through the night alone, with her job that was quite bad.
Luckily, she was able to pay for Henning’s expenses. He studied philosophy, anthropology and natural sciences at the University of Freiburg in Baden-Wurttemberg, where he was awarded a doctorate in 1906. From this point on, where Hennig did not stop contributing in a very remarkable way to research, one could say that he gave his life to it.
After that, he had different jobs as a military geologist until 1917, then he became a professor and even the rector and director of the Paleontological Institute. But without a doubt the greatest achievement of his life, and the one for which he is best known, is his discovery and naming of the dinosaur we speak of today, Kentrosaurus.
Curiosity sexual dimorphism
Acebo Barden and Susannah Maidment, were 2 investigators who reached the conclusion that due to the difference of the proportions of the femurs, between dinosaurs of the same species, in this species there would be a sexual dimorphism, also they deduced that most of those of this species were females, which caused that the same male mates with several females, the sexual dimorphism is a variation within the external physiognomy of any being, in form of color, size…
The Kentrosaurus and the Centrosaurus are not the same dinosaurs
Many times confusion arises because of the great similarity between the names of these 2 dinosaurs. It is true that they both have a certain similarity in some things, but the Kentrosaurus and the Centrosaurus are very different.
For example, the Centrosaurus is one of the last Ceratpsians to inhabit the Earth, while the Kentrosaurus is one of the first Stegosaurus to do so.
In fact, at first they came to be called the same, but to avoid confusion between the two dinosaurs, they changed one of them from being called Kentrosaurus to Centrosaurus.
To sum up
Today we have exposed the dinosaur called Kentrosaurus, which is classified within the animal kingdom, of the vertebrate type, its class is that of sauropside. It was on Earth during the Jurassic period, has a length of 3 meters and a height of about 1 meter and a half and a weight of 200 kilograms and its main location is the current Tanzania in Africa.
The Kentrosaurus was one of the stegosaurids, of which we know today, and its remains are found mainly in Tanzania.
The disposition of its spikes is very characteristic: they start being flat and similar to the plates and they are transformed into long cylindrical spikes up to the tip of the tail. It has an additional pair at the height of the pelvis and oriented backwards, which undoubtedly fulfilled a defensive function: its predators either fled or remained impaled on its spikes.
It is believed that they attacked like porcupines, i.e. backwards, retreating.
It fed by nibbling on the vegetation with its head stuck to the ground as it walked. Their teeth were very weak, so they cut and swallowed directly; once there they fermented and digested.
A curiosity is that like hedgehogs and porcupines, they would ball up under any attack from a predator, forming a spiked armour.