A sharp spike on each shoulder of this dinosaur gave it extra protection from large predators. Kentrosaurus grazed on low-growing plants with its small head close to the ground. It walked on four chunky legs that carried its heavy body. Kentrosaurus lived at the same time as Stegosaurus, but was only about a quarter of its size.
Name: Kentrosaurus, meaning ‘pointed lizard’
Size: 2.5m long and about 1m high
Food: low-growing plants
Lived: 150-140 million years ago in the Late Jurassic Period in Tanzania, East Africa
The nine pairs of plates on the neck and back are very much narrower than those of Stegosaurus, and the five pairs of spines run in a double row right down the tail. Near the front of its back, the spikes were quite flat. They became more narrow and pointed from its middle to the end of its tail. Another pair of spines projects sideways from the shoulders.
Unlike more advanced stegosaurs, it seems Kentrosaurus did not have ossicles across its body embedded in the skin. Kentrosaurus may have used its sharp spikes to defend itself rather like today’s porcupines do. The little skull contains a tiny brain with well-developed olfactory bulbs. This suggests Kentrosaurus had a very good sense of smell, which would have aided food gathering.
Kentrosaurus lived among some of the largest dinosaurs, the gigantic Giraffatitan and Dicraeosaurus, in what is now Tanzania, East Africa.
This stegosaur was excavated between 1909 and 1912 from the Tendaguru site by a team from Germany. Several hundred Kentrosaurus bones were found, suggesting that something like 70 individuals died there. The group find suggests that it may have been a herding animal. Two mounted skeletons were prepared for the Humboldt Museum in Berlin, Germany, but one was destroyed by bombing during World War II.