Come and meet the world’s most complete Stegosaurus

4 December 2014

Stegosaurus on display

The Stegosaurus on display

Our newest dinosaur goes on permanent display in the Museum’s Earth Hall today.

The spectacular skeleton is 560 centimetres long and 290 centimetres tall, and in life the animal would have been the size of a 4x4 vehicle.

Welcoming the arrival of our new star specimen, Museum director Sir Michael Dixon said: 'Continuing to build our collection with incredible specimens such as this one ensures that our 300 scientists, and the 9,000 scientists who visited the Museum last year, continue to connect with our natural world.'

Watch the specimen being assembled in the Earth Hall in this timelapse video

Amazing preservation

The Stegosaurus first arrived behind the scenes at the Museum in December 2013. Since then, scientists have been taking measurements, photographs, laser surface scans and CT scans of the skeleton. They hope to find out more about the lives of stegosaurs, such as how they moved, how they ate and what they used their back plates for.

Museum dinosaur expert Prof Paul Barrett explained the scientific importance of the specimen: 'Although Stegosaurus is a very familiar and iconic dinosaur, this is actually an animal we don’t know very much about,' he said.

'Because of this amazing state of preservation, where we have almost all of the anatomy represented, we can do a lot of new science with this animal, as well as making a beautiful and inspiring display.'

New information from old bones

There are only about six Stegosaurus skeletons in the world and our new specimen is the best example. Many of the others are either incomplete, cobbled together from several different individuals or, as Prof Barrett colourfully puts it, ‘squashed flat, almost like a kind of roadkill’, all of which can obscure important details.

Museum scientists have scanned all the bones of the specimen to create 3D models of the skeleton. 'In virtual space, we can manipulate it in a number of ways that are impossible with the bones themselves due to their size and fragility,' said Prof Barrett.

'We’re using this information to update our knowledge in general of Stegosaurus, which surprisingly was last described in detail in 1914, a hundred years ago.'

  • by Hayley Dunning