[Stegosaurs] have long been identified by the bony plates on their backs, the spikes on their tales, short forelimbs, and stubby little necks.
But now paleontologists have discovered a 150-million-year-old stegosaur in Portugal with a neck that stretched over 5.9 feet (1.8 meters). (Read more about the Jurassic period.)
The neck of the new species, dubbed Miragaia longicollum, is considerably longer than the few inches seen on the average stegosaur neck. Miragaia’s neck is also very long compared to the dinosaur’s 19.6-foot (6-meter) body length.
The newly discovered stegosaur has 17 cervical vertebra, or neck bones-five more than a normal stegosaur and ten more than the modern giraffe. (See pictures of stegosaurs walking.)
“The increase in neck length among stegosaurs demonstrates the evolutionary [flexibility] of dinosaurs and their ability to adapt to change,” said lead author Octavio Mateus at Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal.