150 million year dino discovered in Portugal

February 25th, 2009 - 5:00 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 25 (ANI): Scientists have discovered a previously unknown dinosaur in Portugal, that walked the Earth about 150 million years ago.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the plant eating creature has been named Miragaia longicollum, after the village it was uncovered in near Lourinha and because of its long neck.

Its partial skeleton includes the only known skull remains from any European stegosaur that had a row of bony plates along its back and a spiked tail probably used as a weapon.

Stegosaurs are normally known for their short forelimbs and short necks, and are generally considered to be low browsers.

But this new dinosaur has a higher neck vertebrae count than most of the sauropods renowned for their small heads on very long necks that were the largest and heaviest dinosaurs that ever existed.

Stegosaurs are traditionally reconstructed as feeding on low vegetation because of their small heads, short necks and short forelimbs, said Dr Octavio Mateus, of the New University of Lisbon.

We describe a new stegosaurian dinosaur from the Upper Jurassic of Portugal that challenges this traditional view, he added.

According to Dr Mateus, Miragaia longicollum possessed at least 17 cervical vertebrae, more than possessed by most sauropod dinosaurs, famed for their long necks.

This new discovery indicates a previously unsuspected level of ecological diversity among stegosaurs, he added.

Dr Mateus said that several elements of the skull of Miragaia longicollum were found, representing the first such material recovered from a European stegosaur.

The most notable feature of M. longicollum is its long neck, with at least 17 cervical vertebrae, he added.

The specimen here described represents one of the most complete stegosaurs in Europe and the first that includes cranial material, he further added. (ANI)

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