Building a dinosaur in 30 seconds: World's most complete stegosaurus

By Bryony Jones, CNNPublished 4th December 2014
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She's a giant, and ancient, jigsaw puzzle: 300 bones, 19 bony plates and four vicious-looking spikes.
The world's most complete stegosaurus skeleton -- nicknamed Sophie -- has gone on display at the Natural History Museum in London.
At 5.6m long and 2.9m tall, the Stegosaurus stenops is roughly the size of a 4x4 vehicle -- though it predated such motors by 150 million years.
Paleontologists at the museum have spent 12 months studying the skeleton, measuring, photographing and scanning it, as well as practicing putting it together.
Now, a year after she arrived in London from the U.S., Sophie -- named after the daughter of a wealthy financier whose donation allowed the museum to acquire her -- is finally ready to make her public debut.
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The museum's lead dinosaur researcher, Professor Paul Barrett, said the stegosaurus was incredibly rare.
"Finding one as complete as this, where only the left arm and base of the tail are missing, is exceptional," he said in a statement. "It's the only stegosaurus in the world that's anywhere near this complete. So it's an amazing find."
As well as drawing visitors in to the museum, Barrett said the specimen offered many interesting opportunities for research.
"Because the new skeleton is almost complete, and three-dimensional, we can do a lot of things that have not been possible until now, such as looking at how the leg muscles work or how the skull functions during biting.
"Thanks to this fossil, we can begin to uncover the secrets behind the evolution and behavior of this iconic but poorly understood dinosaur species."
Key to its importance is the fact that the fossil's skull bones are not fused together, allowing paleontologists the chance to experiment: "It's almost like playing with a Meccano set," Barrett said.
While they don't actually know whether it was male or female (despite the name), they can tell the dinosaur was relatively young when it died -- adult stegosaurus are known to have measured up to 9m in length.
And although its spine plates and spiked tail mean it looks a little threatening, back when it was alive the stegosaurus would have been a vegetarian and a solitary creature.
The first stegosaurus was discovered in Colorado in 1877 by paleontologist Othniel Marsh.
The Natural History Museum's specimen was found at Red Canyon Ranch in Wyoming in 2003 -- it took 18 months of painstaking excavation work to free it from the ground it had lain in for so long.