From the vault: Stegosaurus tail spike stored at Fruita’s Dinosaur Journey Museum |

From the vault: Stegosaurus tail spike stored at Fruita’s Dinosaur Journey Museum

A tail spike from a fossilized Stegosaurus armatus was discovered in Mesa County's Rabbit Valley area near the Utah border. It was part of a skeleton that was found 40-percent complete.
Dinosaur Journey Museum |


WHAT: Dinosaur Journey Museum

WHEN: Daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: 550 Jurassic Court, Fruita

COST: $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.25 for children and $24.50 for immediate family groups


Editor’s note: “From the vault” features fossils and other dinosaur-related historical artifacts currently stored at Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colo.

Almost half of a fossilized skeleton belonging to a Stegosaurus armatus was discovered in Mesa County’s Rabbit Valley in 1987 by Harold Bollan. It was excavated from a location south of Mygatt-Moore Quarry, near where Dinosaur Journey Museum also excavated a 6-foot-7-inch-long, 2,800-pound apatosaurus femur last year (the largest of its kind currently on record).

According to Julia McHugh, Dinosaur Journey’s curator of paleontology, the Stegosaurus found locally was 40-percent complete, which is “a rare find for Rabbit Valley. Most of the dinosaur remains in Rabbit Valley are isolated bones; to find a partial skeleton this complete was very special.”

The tail spike featured in the photo was one of four discovered.

“At the time this skeleton was found, it was known for having the best preserved Stegosaurus hand of any specimen,” McHugh confirmed. “Colorado’s state fossil is a closely related species: Stegosaurus stenops, which was found near Cañon City, Colorado.”

Fun fact: The brain of Stegosaurus was likely the size of a walnut.

“Stegosaurus was a herbivore the size of a large van, or small moving truck, and had broad plates along its back and four spikes on the tail for defense,” McHugh said. “It’s hind legs were longer than its front legs and it’s neck was covered in small scutes of bony armor.”

For more information about Dinosaur Journey Museum, visit

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