NEWS

Stegosaurus skeleton unveiled at England's Natural History Museum

12/04/2014 11:50 EST | Updated 02/03/2015 05:59 EST
The world's most complete Stegosaurus skeleton was unveiled at England's Natural History Museum on Thursday.

The 2.9-metre tall and 5.6-metre long skeleton is more than 90 per cent complete. Scientists are only missing the dinosaur's left arm and the base of its tail.

Adult Stegosaurus can be up to nine metres long, which leads scientists to believe this is neither an adult nor a baby dinosaur. But they aren't able to determine the dinosaur's exact age.

Finding such a complete skeleton is exceptional and an amazing find, said Paul Barrett of the museum's earth sciences department in a question-and-answer piece posted on the museum's website.

The skeleton was discovered at Red Canyon Ranch in Wyoming in 2003. Paleontologists spent 18 months digging out the bones.

The museum acquired the skeleton 10 years later, and researchers have been working on it since the bones arrived in December 2013.

Scientists are using data from measurements, photographs and scans of the skeleton to better understand the dinosaur's evolution and behaviour. Although scientists have been aware of the Stegosaurus for more than 130 years, they lack in-depth knowledge about its biology.

"Because the new skeleton is almost complete, and three-dimensional, we can do a lot of things that have not been possible until now, such as looking at how the leg muscles work or how the skull functions during biting," said Barrett.

He is most interested in how the Stegosaurus, which was a herbivore, ate, saying its tiny teeth "look like they would be pretty useless for chewing."

He's also excited to find out the dinosaur's weight, which could lead to other interesting discoveries, like how much it needed to eat.

The Stegosaurus lived during the late Jurassic period between 144 and 156 million years ago in the U.S. Although it was large and slow, its powerful spiked tail helped it fight off predators.

The Stegosaurus will be on permanent public display at the London museum.

MORE:cbcNews