The Colorado Geological Survey Asks, “Did You Know?”

Title: The Colorado Geological Survey Asks, “Did You Know?”

Author: Vince Matthews

Publication: The Outcrop, May/April 2001, p. 15

Did you know that Stegosaurus is Colorado’s state fossil? The Legislature wisely chose this dinosaur to represent our rich fossil treasures. Stegosauri roamed over many parts of Colorado during Jurassic Morrison time. Bones are found in such widely scattered sites as Garden Park near Canon City, Dry Mesa near Delta, Riggs Hill near Fruita, Rabbit Valley near the Utah border, and at Dinosaur National Monument.

The first Stegosaurus in the world was discovered in Colorado in 1877 near the Alameda roadcut in Dinosaur Ridge. The first complete Stegosaurus skeleton in the world was found near Canon City in 1937 and only three more have been subsequently found in the world. One of these was found near Canon City in 1993 and is the only articulated skeleton ever found. With this discovery, paleontologists finally learned how the bony spikes and armor plates were attached to the dinosaur.

Stegosaurus ranges up to 25 feet in length. A mounted specimen is on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and a half-size, scale-model robotic Stegosaurus is at the museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction. Although Stegosaurus earned its place as Colorado State Fossil, many other world class fossils are found in the state. For some fascinating reading, try CGS Special Publication 35: Colorado’s Dinosaurs.