Miragaia

Name: Miragaia ‭(‬Named after the location of its discovery‭)‬.
Phonetic: Mee-rah-guy-ah.
Named By: Octávio Mateus,‭ ‬Susannah C.R.‭ ‬Maidment‭ & ‬Nicolai A.‭ ‬Christiansen‭ ‬-‭ ‬2009.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Ornithischia,‭ ‬Thereophora,‭ ‬Stegosauria,‭ ‬Stegosauridae,‭ ‬Dacentrurinae.
Species: M.‭ ‬longicollum (type).
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: Estimated between‭ ‬5.5‭ ‬and‭ ‬6‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Portugal‭ ‬-‭ ‬Sobral Formation.
Time period: Kimmeridgian to Tithonian of the Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Partial skull,‭ ‬mainly snout,‭ ‬and partial post cranial remains including cervical‭ (‬neck‭) ‬vertebrae,‭ ‬forelimbs,‭ ‬ribs,‭ ‬pelvic elements and neck plates.‭ ‬Further isolated remains have been attributed to the genus.

       At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking that Miragaia is some kind of hybrid between a stegosaur and a sauropod.‭ ‬Well in actuality Miragaia is a stegosaur,‭ ‬although the long neck and long forelimbs make it quite different from classic examples such as Stegosaurus and Kentrosaurus.‭ ‬The most likely cause for this different body morph‭ ‬is that Miragaia specialised to feed upon taller vegetation,‭ ‬and a longer neck would not just increase reach but could cover a larger area without the need for Miragaia to physically move its body.
       The long neck was composed of at least seventeen vertebrae,‭ ‬some of which appear to be specially positioned dorsal vertebrae that were carried further forward.‭ ‬The vertebrae also seem to be more elongated than other stegosaurids.‭ ‬Because the front limbs were almost as high as the rear limbs,‭ ‬the overall posture of Miragaia would be more horizontally level to the ground.‭ ‬Most other stegosaurids had bodies that sloped down to the ground so that their heads were better situated for low browsing.‭ ‬The tail for Miragaia is still unknown but is usually reconstructed with a four spiked thagomizer like many other stegosaurids possess.‭

Further reading
- A new long-necked ‘sauropod-mimic’ stegosaur and the evolution of the plated dinosaurs. Octavio Mateus, Susannah C. R. Maidment and Nicolai A. Christiansen - 2009.




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