Stegosaurs may be the oldest species ever discovered

Jay Kakade
Bashanosaurus primitivus Illustration of Bashanosaurus primitivus. (Image Credit: Banana Art Studio)

Stegosaurs is thought to be originated in Asia around 168 million years ago. Stegosaurs measured 2.8 meters in length. But it is hard to state whether fossil found belongs to adult or an infant.

According to research by Journal of Vertebrates Paleontology, remains of Stegosaur species is earliest to be unearthed ever on Earth.

Remains found includes bones of back, thigh, shoulder, foot, armor plates and ribs. Fossil dates back to middle Jurassic Period, this time period is much earlier than other fossils of Stegosaurs. Team named new species Bashanosaurus primitivus.

Bashanosaurus Primitivus will help us in understanding how stegosaurs evolved around 168 million years ago. Evolution of Stegosaurs is little known to us.

Stegosaurs had small and less developed should blade – Triangular shaped bones in upper back, Bases of armor plates were narrow but thicker. But other features discovered do not resembles other Stegosaurs during middle Jurassic period.

According to Dr. Dai Hui (led the research), All the features resemble to Stegosaurs. But Bashanosaurus can be distinguished from other Stegosaurs representing a new species. He further stated, it is one of the earliest diverging Stegosaurs. These fossils were unearthed from Middle to late Jurassic period in China. Dr. Dai Hui suggested that Stegosaurs might have originated in Asia.

This Stegosaurs are characterized by big back plates, tail spikes, tiny head, four legged and plant-eating creatures. Though fossils are discovered all over earth except Australia and Antarctica. Total 14 species of Stegosaurs are known to us.

Huayangosaurus are one of the primitive members of the stegosaur’s family. Gigantspinosaurus too belongs to them recognized by shoulder spines. The fragmented fossils discovered fails to provide us information of their evolution and relation between them.

But the discovery of new species provided us something. Bashanosaurus Primitivus shows some similarities – Long tail, shoulder blade and thick armour base - to some earliest stegosaurs like Gigantspinosaurus and Huayangosaurus.

Fossils of Bashanosaurus possess some unique characteristics too. Like, bony small and less developed should blade is different from other stegosaurs. Bases of armor plates are thicker than its relatives.

Dr. Susannah Maidment said, “The discovery of this stegosaur from the Middle Jurassic of China adds to an increasing body of evidence that the group evolved in the early Middle Jurassic, or perhaps even in the Early Jurassic, and as such represent some of the earliest known bird-hipped dinosaurs. China seems to have been a hotspot for stegosaur diversity, with numerous species now known from the Middle Jurassic right the way through until the end of the Early Cretaceous period.”
  • New Stegosaurs from the Middle Jurassic Lower Member of the Shaximiao Formation of Chongqing, China: DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2021.1995737
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