Euro Stego

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 2nd, 2007


One of the first dinosaur names that all dino-crazy kids (myself included) learns to pronounce and links to pictures of that tiny-headed, plates-on-the-back image is the “Stegosaurus.”


This is the kind of chart presently found on Strategic Transitions learning software that will soon have to be revised.

Ask any kid interested in dinosaurs: Where are Stegosaurus found? The answer always has been: The American West, of course.

That response is no longer true. News services from China to the USA are flashing the new discovery of a Stegosaurus in Portugal. This recent finding of the first Stegosaurus fossil in Europe — actually the first ever outside of North America — now supports a widely accepted theory the two continents were connected at one time by a series of temporary land bridges.

“Both coasts were very close and the basins between them could emerge occasionally,” said study leader Fernando Escaso of the University of Autonoma in Madrid, Spain.


The scientists unearthed the new Stegosaurus fossils — which included a tooth and parts of the animal’s spinal column and leg bones — near the city of Batalha, in central Portugal. Preliminary analyses show the fossils to be indistinguishable from a species previously found only in North America, called Stegosaurus ungulatus.

The new finding will be detailed in a forthcoming issue of the German science journal Naturwissenchaften.


The above represents the high-end models available at DinoStoreus of a typical Stegosaurus.

Cambodian Dinosaur

So, did the Stegosaurus (click above to enlarge) get all the way to Asia? See “Stegosaur in Cambodia?” for more discussion on that question.

Clarification: Stegosaurus vs stegosaurids.

Stegosaurus fossil find range

There are Stegosaurus (a species) unique to western North America (before the Portugal find) versus what are called “stegosaurids.”

The origin of Stegosaurus is uncertain, as few remains of basal stegosaurs and their ancestors are known. Recently, stegosaurids have been shown to be present in the lower Morrison Formation, existing several million years before the occurrence of Stegosaurus itself, with the discovery of the related Hesperosaurus from the early Kimmeridgian. The earliest stegosaurid (the genus Lexovisaurus) is known from the Oxford Clay Formation of England and France, giving it an age of early to middle Callovian. The earlier, and more basal genus Huayangosaurus from the Middle Jurassic of China (some 165 million years ago) predates Stegosaurus by 20 million years and is the only genus in the family Huayangosauridae. Earlier still is Scelidosaurus, from Early Jurassic England, which lived approximately 190 million years ago. Interestingly, it possessed features of both stegosaurs and ankylosaurs. Emausaurus from Germany was another small quadruped, while Scutellosaurus from Arizona in the USA was an even earlier genus and was facultatively bipedal. These small, lightly-armoured dinosaurs were closely related to the direct ancestor of both stegosaurs and ankylosaurs. A trackway of a possible early armoured dinosaur, from around 195 million years ago, has been found in France. Wikipedia

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

30 Responses to “Euro Stego”

  1. dws responds:

    I have seen that stegosaurus with my own eyes in Cambodia!

  2. dws responds:

    sorry…the carving! But still…very creepy

  3. inujo responds:

    I have always wondered at the similarity between the stegosaurus and the komodo dragons. Could they be smaller versions? Second cousins? With the problems of hunting and killing this “little” guys how on earth could we wipe out all the Stegos? We do after all kill Elephants and crocodiles so maybe it’s not so hard after all.

    Would the Stegosaurus have a tongue like the dragon? Are dinosaurs “cleaner creatures” than modern reptiles and such who commonly have enough bacteria to kill you even if you survive an attack?

  4. kittenz responds:

    When I first saw this story I was struck once again by the way that specialization and narrow focus can lead to narrow-minded thinking. Why WOULDN’T there be a Stegosaurus in Europe (or anywhere else for that matter)? Just because none have ever been found there?

    This illustrates one of the problems that lead to the type of denial that we see in many biological investigations: because it has not been found, some begin to presume that it cannot be found, and since it cannot be found, it does not exist.

    Although that kind of circular reasoning may be, to some extent, human nature, it is counterproductive to really understanding the natural world and the animals that live and move within it.

  5. jayman responds:

    In the Jurassic, when Stegosaurus lived, the world map was very different from today due to continental drift. The North Atlantic basin was just beginning to open and northeastern North America and northwestern Europe were still joined, so this doesn’t seem so surprising.

  6. Aaronious responds:

    Here in Colorado, the Stegosaurus is our “State Dinosaur.”

    As for the above mentioned continental drift, to be more accurate, you mean plate tectonicsm (which, to me, are basically one and the same, but to a hard core geologist, they are different).

  7. mystery_man responds:

    Fossils have a way of popping up and rearranging what was thought to be true. There are all sorts of examples of this popping up all of the time. Look at Homo florensiensis or the early flying mammal that was recently uncovered. Then there is the skull that was recently found suggesting more evidence of human/Neanderthal interbreeding. It seems preconceived ideas are being challenged on a fairly regular basis nowadays. I never knew why they assumed that the stegosaurus didn’t exist anywhere else and now I see that indeed, they were going on lack of any tangible evidence to make their presumptions which I guess is not totally unforgivable. Of course they were working with the evidence available and could not presume that the stegosaurus existed everywhere. They had to start somewhere and that is the place where they found tangible evidence of their existence. I know there are no tigers in Japan because I know there has been no evidence to show they are here. But still, there is not nearly enough known about the biodiversity of prehistoric times to really make accurate assumptions about the range of any of these animals. Fossils are a tricky thing and I really think that our perceptions of natural history are going to change in the coming decades as more of these sorts of discoveries crop up. It is not even unreasonable to expect a Bigfoot fossil at some point if there is one to be found. Fossils are a rare thing. Time will tell.

  8. DWA responds:

    kittenz: any sasquatch skeptic could use your post almost without revision. Practically every “can’t exist” argument against the sas offered so far is pretty easily refutable based on what we know now. Particularly the argument from fossil evidence.

    mystery_man: right. Biodiversity in prehistory is something of which I believe the fossil record has so far given us only the barest taste. People who think that “holes in the fossil record” create problems for the theory of evolution don’t know much about fossils. The holes just haven’t been filled yet; and given the extraordinary circumstances that must combine to create a fossil, it’s perfectly reasonable to think that some of those holes will never get filled.

    And I just have no idea how Bigfoot keeps showing up on this site, even when the big guy isn’t invited to the party. 😉

  9. mystery_man responds:

    Sorry, DWA! I couldn’t resist!

  10. DWA responds:

    Oh, it’s OK, mystery_man.

    I mean, hey, the stegosaurus is long gone. OK, so far as we know.

    The big guy? Well, we could use knowing more than we do.

  11. Ceroill responds:

    Excellent article, Loren. This again makes me think of the diagrams they put in bird identification books, showing the range in which said bird will be found at the various times of year. Admittedly the best of these books would add the note that this is not an absolute demarcation, and that the species in question can on occasion be found beyond said range.

  12. mystery_man responds:

    I remember reading a book not that long ago filled with what the scientists of yore thought of as fact compared with what is known today. I got quite a chuckle out of it. It was chock full of amusingly pompous statements like “the very thought of a large flying machine is absurd”, or “The thought of communicating via electronic signals is ludicrous” and it even included all of the “evidence” as to why these inventions were impossible. In hindsight, it is really quite amusing. You can see from this article that we would be incredibly narrow minded and arrogant to presume we know everything about the natural world or what is possible or not possible. I feel that we have to be prepared to have some of our ideas challenged as new discoveries make themselves know. I often find myself wondering if somewhere in the future we will be laughing about the time when nobody thought, sorry DWA, Bigfoot could exist.

  13. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: another good post.

    I think that if each era of science were examined, in even a cursory fashion, including the current one, the most salient fact that would come out is how LITTLE science knows. Compared to what it thinks it knows.

    Another poster recently ruminated on the difference between science as the body of polished investigative procedure we’ve erected and tested over time, and science as the body of people who try to live up to it.

    There is a BIG difference.

    The flip dismissal of the sasquatch by many mainstream scientists leaves one wondering how often they go outside, and how much they actually reflect on what their experience should tell them.

    The readiness of many so-called skeptics to grovel before the temple of science – without even doing any independent thought on how the science is being applied (or whether it even is at all), or where the people involved don’t seem to be living up to the body of scientific procedure and experience – shows that, well, they’re not skeptics. Skeptics challenge assumptions; they doubt conclusions. Science, when it’s being properly applied, is skepticism.

    Yet when many in the scientific mainstream – including scientists in totally unrelated fields, like the physicist who got his name in the news by calling for Jeff Meldrum’s tenure – mouth off on subjects like the sasquatch, they show themselves to be less investigating evidence than clinging to hoary belief. Which has never been a good scientific bet.

    (Speaking, Mr. Radford, of the argument from authority. What the hell is a physicist doing poking his snout in this? Would he like to hear Jeff’s opinion of string theory?)

    Contrary to the labels – people on this board were probably wondering when I was going to say this – much of the scientific “thought” on the sas is little more than BELIEF. The skeptics are the ones challenging – quite a few of them scientifically – the hoary, old-as-science belief that that just CAN’T be true. Because we say it can’t, and we have degrees.

    There’s the big guy again! This was about stegosaurs, remember. 😀 Aaaaanyway, we have a lesson for paleontologists in this tale. The lesson is: remains have been found in the following places. NOT: the animal lived in the following places.

    BIG difference.

  14. CASReaves responds:

    Just because kittenz’ response about the circular nature of the “can’t exist because it hasn’t been found” idea follows along with the views of sasquatch skeptics doesn’t make it untrue. Many people DO tend to feel that if it hasn’t been found yet, that it couldn’t have existed. However, the more broadminded view pretty well mirrors her OWN post – that just because it hasn’t been found YET doesn’t mean that it never existed. It is indeed reasonable to think that many species of dinosaur have existed in far more places than they have yet been found. And can you imagine how many species we may never find because their fossils have been destroyed by construction, natural disasters or mining?

  15. joppa responds:

    I’m still baffled by the Stego in Cambodia, or is that an elephant carrying my luggage o a tiger hunt???

  16. mystery_man responds:

    Good post, DWA. Amen to that. Although this is all revelant, I think I’ll let this get back to the stegosaurus now!

  17. U.T. Raptor responds:

    I could be wrong, but weren’t stegosaurs already known from Eurasia? I swear the kind whose plates turn to spines partway down the back were found there…

  18. Loren Coleman responds:

    See the new clarification at the end of the blog, above, about Stegosaurus (a species) that are unique to western North America (before the Portugal find) and what are called “stegosaurids.”

  19. joppa responds:

    I think some of the articles point to the Euro-Stego as proof positive that the Pangaea super continent existed. Some geological models of continental drift have North America still attached to Europe in the Jurassic when Stegos and other armoured dinosaurs were plodding around. Although it seems to be a well established fact that Pangaea existed, there is quite a bit of controversy of when and how the continents split up.

    The find in Portugal lends some weight to the theory that North America split from Europe at a later date than earlier thought.

  20. Rillo777 responds:

    I’m looking at this from a different perspective, but it seems to me there is a lot of scientific dating that needs reassessing. That steg in Cambodia was either around several millions years after its extinction, or somebody was waaaay ahead of his time in archaeology. Or, as repugnant as it may be to the scientific community, the “young-earthers” might be right. I just saw a poll listed in January’s Archeaology magazine that showed that 41% of Americans don’t believe man evolved and 51% believe man and dinosaurs co-existed. Don’t gang up on me! I’m just reporting what I read. But maybe we should have our viewpoints but be open to all possibilities. That, it seems to me, is a good scientific approach.

  21. Mnynames responds:

    A good scientific approach would be to follow the science. The vast expanse of data we have at our disposal clearly indicates that the Earth has been around for an awful long time, and that dinosaurs died out 65 mya. The interpretation of a vague (Possibly hoaxed) carving on an ancient temple is not going to overturn anything without a lot more supporting facts behind it.

    I’m not saying don’t look into it, nor am I saying that a Stegosaurid CAN’T possibly still exist. What I am saying is that it is incredibly unlikely, and the evidence that it might be is (so far) incredibly flimsy, and perhaps even contrived. If it’s surviving dinosaurs you want, the evidence for Mokele M’Bembe is far, far more persuasive. Even the more bizarre stories of carnosaurs in the American west have more force behind them. They at least consist of several supposed firsthand eyewitness statements, rather than relying on interpretation of possibly imaginary artwork.

    Even so, if one were to be found, it would be easily accommodated within our existing theories of evolution and plate tectonics (Although the mystery might remain as to why we’d never noticed them before).

  22. MBFH responds:

    The thing I always remember about Steggy from books when I was young was that it had a brain “the size of a walnut”. Even so, he was on Earth for a lot longer than our species.

    I sometimes think that these professional scientists who are amazed to find evidence of things where previously there was none should sometimes comeout of their labs and lecture theatres and see how things actually happen and apply a bit of common sense, logic and rationalism.

  23. Rillo777 responds:

    I didn’t meant to imply in my previous post that a living dinosaur would disprove evolution. On the other hand, it wouldn’t prove it either. Having followed the articles published by the Institute for Creation Research, which are all accredited scientists in many different fields, I can find as many ways that evolution is refuted as an evolutionist can find ways to justify it. If you’ve studied evolution and have come to believe in it, then more power to you. The only thing I think is vital is actually taking the time to study these things for oneself and with an open mind, finally coming to a conclusion based on intelligent inquiry.

  24. mystery_man responds:

    Well, unfortunately some of the creationists I have met are pretty far from open minded. In science, theories can be disproven and changed when new evidence pops up to refute them. The world was once thought to be flat and this was FACT, yet it was disproven. Same about the Earth revolving around the sun. The list goes on and on. One of the amazing things about science is that new ideas can usurp old ideas when their is valid evidence and data. Not so with most of the ideas I have heard on creationism. There seems to be very little willingness to budge on any of their tenants at all and some of my thoughts were flat out rejected without any consideration and my thoughts were based on common scientific knowledge. I would be curious to know how this fits into “studying everything for oneself with an open mind.”

  25. DWA responds:

    I’d agree with mystery_man.

    Here’s the difference between evolution and creationism in my mind.

    Evolution explains the world to me.

    Creationism not only doesn’t; it seems a willful effort to AVOID doing so.

    I evaluate evidence with a completely open mind. That’s why I’m done with creationism, and it didn’t take long.

  26. mystery_man responds:

    Right DWA. Another thing I have noticed is that in modern science, there is the tendency to at least admit when they do not know the answer. Then it is time to go out and find out what the answer is. Scientists know they don’t know everything. Even old staples like the Big Bang are not completely understood yet and scientists can come out and say that. In my experience with creationists, there is no tendency to do this. Holes in the fossil record? I have my theories, but I don’t know for sure what is going on there. At least I can admit that, whereas for creationists, that is a hard, concrete piece of evidence to support their theory. Maybe it isn’t all creationists, but the ones I have spoken to do not admit that they don’t know the answers, they have it all worked out, there is no willingness to question their own theories or admit the answer might not be clear. Scientists can take a problem and say, well we don’t know what is going on here, lets test some hypothesis and get to the bottom of it. I cannot say that creationism does not exist without a doubt. I simply do not know, nobody does. But creationists seem to “know” that evolution is false, despite many of them demonstrating a surprising lack of knowledge about how evolution actually works. It must be nice to have all the answers. Again, curious to know how this general attitude coincides with “learning everything for oneself with an open mind.”

  27. kelpie responds:

    Hey guys, new to the site. This place rocks, btw.

    To answer a question on if the stegosaurids reached Europe and Asia, the answer is yes. From China we get Huayangosaurus, Chungkingosaurus, Chialingosaurus, Wuerhosaurus, and Tuojiangosaurus. From Britain we have Regnosaurus, Craterosaurus, Lexovisaurus and Dacentrurus. And from the Americas we have Hesperosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Hypsirophus.

    In Africa, Kentrosaurus gave us the first evidence of stegosaur herding behavior, and we also have Paranthodon from South Africa. Dravidosaurus came from the Late Coniacian of India. Monkonosaurus came from Tibet and China.

    Stegs were common globally in the Jurassic and into the early Cretaceous. Stegs were basically bush-eaters, browsing vegetation about a meter off the ground (more saline than arborsecent vegetation) and inhabited more distal, less well-watered environments.

    So we know for sure where the stegs were, even if plate tectonics play a major role in placement, we still know a basic model to propose.

    But what I dont get is the debate here on whether or not they were once alive in these areas. Shouldn’t the debate be, were there LIVE stegs around during human habitation? I think yes, it isnt so incredible to think so. We hunted the mammoth down to nothing, perhaps our fears killed the remaining “dragons” off also. The sculpture on the wall denotes a pretty accurate carving of a fleshed out steg. What species? Don’t matter really. The fact is that there is a strong possibility the humans knew the stegs well, not just from bones, but from real life. There are my 2 cents.

  28. mystery_man responds:

    Welcome to the site Kelpie. Thanks for your informative post. I enjoyed reading it. The debate on whether dinosaurs were still around when humans lived is fascinating for me. Just out of curiosity, since you seem very knowledgable, what evidence have you come across to make you think there is a strong possibility that humans lived with the stegs? Your theory that humans killed off the remaining ones is not impossible I suppose, but what makes you think that is the case here? I have my ideas, but I am always interested to hear other people’s two cents!

  29. kelpie responds:

    I do not feel it is the case here with the steg on the wall…that of man killing off the dragon…that is. Most likely, quite the contrary. It has been my opinion that when animals are depicted in glyph along side other animals (and not with a human image fighting or slaying it), these animals are used as a revered subject, or one of religious tones, or that of necessity. Not of showing a conquered foe.

    Take the wall of ancient Babylonia with sirrush , or sirrish, among lions and ox. Supposedly, King Nebbecanezer had the beast in a den and worshipped it as a god. Perhaps the same goes for the steg. surely it would have stuck out like a sore thumb against other local animals. Or even if other dinosaurs were living at the time also, the stegs are impressive and formidable all on their own. Hell, I would have been in awe of ANY steg.

    There is no doubt in my mind humans have witnessed either the tail end of (pardon the pun) or may still be within the time of live dinosaurs, or most likely their modern equivalence.

    Lots of fakes and hoaxes, illusions and wanna-be’s. But many more unexplained lie out there. Or perhaps, as in these sculptures, carvings, glyphs and writings, they are explained very clearly. We have just let our textbooks get in the way of seeing the evidence right under our noses.

    Check out the aboriginal drawings of the plesiosaurs. That’s a rush. They even have the inner anatomy correct (well, strikingly similar to our skeletons, and i have cast rib cages for one of the hanging plesiosaurs at the Denver Museum), …thousands of years before modern science even knew what a plesiosaur was.

    Who knows?

  30. Mnynames responds:

    Never say never, and personally I’d love for it to be true, but it just seems an astounding jump of logic to say that an anomalous temple carving open to a great deal of interpretation is proof of much of anything, let alone that animals that no one has ever seen (Or even ever reported seeing, it might be different if this were in light of ANY native sightings) and that by all accounts have been extinct for 65 million years are still wandering about. Yes, we have some precedents, Coelacanths, to be sure. But they are small, marine mammals, easily ueffected by the global firestorm and nuclear winter the immense dinosaurs would have had to endured. It remains implausible that any survived. Notice I did not say impossible, but for now, this is hardly evidence to the contrary.

    If you want to find a living dinosaur, then find out what the heck Mokele Mbembe is. I suspect it will turn out to be an unknown form of mammal, but it sure sounds like a Sauropod.

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