‹‹ Colorado Postcards

Stegosaurus, state fossil

Listen Now
1min 01sec
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The park and ride lots on Interstate 70 where its heads up Mount Vernon Canyon near the Morrison exit in Jefferson County, Aug. 12, 2022.
Stegosaurus, Colorado’s state fossil

It was 30 feet long, 14 feet tall and weighed 14 thousand pounds. 150 million years ago, the plant-eating Stegosaurus lumbered across Colorado. The plates above its spine gave it the name “Stegosaurus,” meaning “roofed lizard.” Its back sloped down to a small head, housing a brain the size of a walnut. On its back end it also tapered off, but with a significant defense mechanism: four long spikes near the tip of a tail it could swing with great force.

The first Stegosaurus fossil was found at Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison in the 1870s. And in 1982, the stegosaurus was immortalized twice over: it officially became Colorado’s state fossil, and artist Gary Larson finally gave that spiked tail a name. The “thagomizer,” a cave man says in the Far Side cartoon. Paleontologists now use that invented word for that formidable weapon at the tail end of the Stegosaurus.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.