Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stegosaurus: Search for the Truth (3 of 3)

What was the Stegosaurus like?  The size of a bus, this herbivore had a long narrow head with a beak.  Unlike other dinosaurs, the Stegosaurus had cheeks.  These allowed the animal to better chew His food.  Also the cheeks enabled the Stegosaurus to hold more food in His mouth.  This made the dinosaur more advanced in one area of dinosaur anatomy.

Although the family of Stegosaurids originated in Asia, the majority of the fossils of Stegosaurus were found in North America.  However, fossils of this particular species were also found in Europe, and His tracks in Australia.  The Stegosaurus of North America was the last of the Stegosaurid family.  Although this dinosaur is one of the iconic dinosaurs, the Stegosaurus was not one of the more successful of the dinosaurs.  This dinosaur only existed at the end of the Jurassic Period.

Because of their hip structure, the Stegosaurus family is classified as Ornithischian (bird-hipped) dinosaurs.  The armored dinosaurs, the Ankylosaurs are the closest relatives of the Stegosaurus.  Besides the plates on His back, this dinosaur had armored plates under His neck.

As a popular dinosaur, the Stegosaurus is well-represented in children’s toys and stories.  For adults, this dinosaur was one of the major plot points in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”.  In addition, the various movies featured the Stegosaurus, such as “King Kong” (1933).

In his book, “The Last Dinosaur”, cultural commentator, W.J.T. Mitchell presents the theory that dinosaurs in general are the totem animals of the modern age.  He explains that dinosaurs once reflected the ideas of the Victorians.  At that time, Man reigned supreme over these ponderous giants.  Today he argues the dinosaurs represent the modern nation state.

The wacky theories about the Stegosaurus seem to follow this pattern that Mitchell lays out.  Naturalists bombarded this dinosaur with their faulty logic of the Stegosaurus as a dim-witted slow moving animal.  Modern scientists present a more “politically correct” view of a courageous herbivore fending off His attackers.

For me, the Stegosaurus asks us to sweep away the cobwebs of ignorance.  As an icon, the animals offers comforting familiarity, that we can explore the dark corners of life with Him.  Step out into the unknown with the Stegosaurus by your side.  This dinosaur urges us to keep asking questions, and never stop searching for the truth.  But we do not have to do it by ourselves for the Stegosaurus will travel with us.

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