A new study reveals that a palm-sized lizard with teeth as sharp as a butcher’s knife is so ancient that it traces the origins of modern lizards and snakes back 35 million years.
Paleontologists have found the fossilized remains of the small, razor-toothed reptile buried in a rock that is stored in storage at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London. It has been held there since it was quarried from a quarry near Bristol, England, in the 1950s. Little was known about the fossil labeled “(false)”.Clevosaurus and another reptile.”
For the new study, the researchers examined the fossil and found that the lizard dated to about 202 million years ago. Triassic period (from 237 million to 201 million years); and that the remains include a partial skeleton, skull and jaws. Computed tomography (CT scan Some of the fossil helped the researchers determine what they were looking at at one type of Squamata – the largest order of reptiles that encompassed lizards, snakes, and a group of legless lizards called amphibians or “worm lizards.”
It was stated that the fossil was small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and contained a 1.2-inch (3-centimeter) skull with a jaw full of sharp teeth. Michael Benton (opens in new tab)He is a co-author of the study and professor of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Bristol.
Because of the fossil’s small size, researchers had to use less invasive techniques to study the lizard; such methods were not around when they were first discovered.
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“Conventional needle removal methods have literally wreaked havoc, and the CT scan reveals all the tiny details and hidden sections within the rock undamaged,” Benton said. “[We] we needed to see this level of detail of the skull bones to determine its detailed anatomy and [to] makes comparisons with modern and fossil forms.”
Using CT scans as a guide, the researchers created a 3-D reconstruction of the lizard and found that it was about 10 inches (25 cm) long, half of which had a long, slender tail, according to the study.
But despite the lizard’s small build, its sharp teeth could deliver a menacing bite, which inspired paleontologists to name it. Cryptovaranoides microlanius; the species name means “little butcher”, while the genus means “hidden” and “lizard-like”; it’s a nod to the decades he spent rotting unnoticed in the NHM warehouse. When? C microlanius It once likely preyed on arthropods and small vertebrates on the limestone-rich islands that now surround Bristol, according to the study.
C. microlanius’ age rewrites the origins of modern-day lizards and snakes, revealing that lizards lived 30 million years earlier than previously thought. This discovery “helps complete the picture” of squamate evolution, Benton said.
“An important question in modern biology is understanding really successful groups like lizards and snakes, which have more than 11,000 species,” Benton said. Said. “How have they been so successful and how are they responding to climate change? So, looking back in time, we need to know exactly when, where and how this large modern group arose – our fossil now recalibrates and draws the entire cheeban.” 35 million years back.”
The findings were published Dec. 2 in the journal Science Advances (opens in new tab).