Essay by Austin Anderson
As time goes on, it leaves behind things that may never be discovered by humans, but by the grace of God, we are permitted to still uncover and understand some mysteries that have long been hidden from our knowledge.
This “uncovering of mysteries” is yet another wonder of our God’s creation. We have been commanded to take dominion of this earth and though many of our paths differ from one another some lead us to dinosaurs and a rare few lead us to the Stegosaurus.
The Stegosaurus is a fascinating creature, at first glance, it looks like a heavily armored war machine, but then as you keep looking you start to notice many small oddities. It is, honestly, kind of an odd-looking dinosaur. Usually, when we think of a big beefy-looking dinosaur we think of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, infamous for its daunting look and powerful jaws. The T-Rex has become the standard for fearsome dinosaurs.
So where does the Stegosaurus fit in?
The first Stegosaurus fossils were discovered in 1876 in Colorado by M.P. Felch. After being discovered, this dinosaur was not given its own name for a whole year. Finally, in 1877, Othniel C. Marsh, who was at that time a professor of paleontology at Yale College, coined the name “Stegosaurus.” The name means “roofed lizard,” referring to the plates on top of it that were at one time thought to lay flat like a roof.
These plates have stumped paleontologists ever since. There have been many speculations about what the plates do, but no one knows for sure. The most widely adopted theory is that the plates acted like solar panels. Due to the width of them, blood vessels located in the plates may have been able to warm the Stegosaurus by collecting energy from the sun. If so, they would have worked similarly to sitting by a window with sunshine coming through; the sun is very powerful and would have acted as a natural heater.
When the Stegosaurus was first discovered another wild assumption paleontologists made was that they would have walked on two legs like a T-Rex, not four. Because the Stegosaurus was a herbivore they thought this would have allowed it to eat leaves off of trees. Today, most people agree that it only ate ground vegetation but some still speculate that it could have at times reared up on two legs to get a tasty treat from a nearby tree.
Deadly Comic Relief
Most herbivores are thought of as wimpy compared to the giant meat-eaters. But God created most herbivores with special weapons to defend themselves against even the biggest of beasts. Some dinosaurs were given giant brains to outsmart their predators while others were given weapons that looked like they came right out of a movie. The Stegosaurus is no exception, although it had a remarkably small brain only about the size of a walnut, it had a lethal, spiked tail called a thagomizer. How about that for a name!
The name of this deadly weapon was coined in 1982 by the cartoonist Gary Larson, creator of the popular Far Side of the Gallery comic series. About 10 years later, in 1993, paleontologist Ken Carpenter started using this term in his scientific writing, and from then on it stuck. Now many paleontologists and museums commonly accept this name.
One last little-known fact about the Stegosaurus is that they ate rocks like chickens. When people go to a farm and see chickens pecking at the gravel they may attribute this behavior to its “pea-sized brain.” Surprisingly, chickens and Stegosauruses alike would do this for their digestive system. The rocks they ate would help to mash up the hard vegetation in their stomachs.
The way God created creatures is remarkable! When the Genesis flood of Noah’s time swept across the earth it killed many animals and dinosaurs, but now we get to find them millennia later. Thank God for the earth and his command for us to take dominion over it!
Hello, my name is Austin Anderson. I am growing up in Montana at the current moment; for most of my (short) life I have been interested in writing so that is what I’m still doing on my blog at theaustinblog.org, and hope to continue doing all for the glory of the Lord!