Elginia was a pareiasaur; a member of a group of Late Permian parareptiles which normally grew up to 3 metres (9.8 ft).


Elginia was a dwarf genus of pareiasaur, only about 60 centimetres (2 ft) long, with fossils found at Elgin in Scotland. Elginia is known only from a single skull, which is about 15 cm long, triangular, coarsely sculptured, and armed with a number of paired bosses or spines, with the longest pair growing out of the back of the skull. These spikes were probably used for display rather than physical combat.[1] The upper jaw bears 12 pairs of teeth, each with 9 or 10 cusps. The teeth are slightly constricted at the base and serrated at the crown.


As with many pareiasaurs, precise phylogenetic placement is uncertain. Elginia shares with Scutosaurus elaborate cranial ornament, which may imply they are related (Boonstra, 1932), although this is more likely to be the result of simple convergence. It was also thought related to the very primitive taxon Dolichopareia (=Nochelesaurus) on the basis of a deeply notched skull table shared with the latter (Walker 1973), but this turned out to be the result of taphonomic distortion (Lee 1997). Cladistic analyses tend to place it as more derived than the earlier giant Pareiasaurus and Scutosaurus, but evidence of actual phylogenetic relationships is obscure, and phylogenies differ according to whether Elginia is the most highly derived Therischian (Lee 1997, Jalil & Janvier 2005) or intermediate between Scutosaurus and Pumiliopareiasaurs (Tsuji & Müller 2009).


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