Kentrosaurus lived during the late Jurassic period, about 156 to 150 million years ago. It probably lived on the soft ground near lakes and rivers. Kentrosaurus was about 17 feet long and weighed about 2 tons. That’s about as large as a minivan. It was one of the armored dinosaurs. That means that it was protected by thick bony plates all over its body. This dinosaur had two rows of hard plates that grew out of its back, starting at its neck and ending at its tail. A double row of spikes ran down its tail. Another pair of spikes grew from its shoulders. Its spikes were good protection against predators. Its name, Kentrosaurus, means “spiked lizard”.
Paleontologists know about dinosaurs from the bones they find. They know that the plates on Kentrosaurus’s back were not attached to its skeleton. No one is sure exactly how they looked on the real dinosaur. Also, we are not sure what the plates were used for. Some scientists believe that they were used to keep the dinosaur warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. Blood vessels ran through the plates. If Kentrosaurus stood with its plates facing the sun, the blood would warm up and pump back into its body. If it were too warm, it could stand with its plates in the shade. This would cool down the entire dinosaur. The plates could also have been colorful. This would help them attract a mate.
Kentrosaurus walked slowly on four legs. It had big claws on its toes, each one like a horse’s hoof. Its back legs were twice as long as its front legs, so its head was close to the ground. It could probably stand on its hind legs for a short time to find leaves on tall branches. But most of the time, Kentrosaurus fed on plants growing low to the ground. It had a long, toothless beak and small grinding teeth in the back of its mouth. It cut plants down with its beak and chewed them up in the back of its mouth. Kentrosaurus was not a very smart dinosaur. Its brain was only about the size of a walnut. However, it did have a very good sense of smell. This part of its brain was very well-developed. Kentrosaurus fossils have been found in Tanzania, Africa.