Scientists have identified the world's oldest lizard - the most most ancient ancestor of all modern lizards and snakes - by analysing a 240-million-year-old fossil.
The team combined data from both living and extinct reptiles-which involved anatomical data drawn from CT scans and DNA, revealing that the once enigmatic reptile was actually the oldest known squamate.
"This study, along with others that try to understand fundamental aspects of evolution. will hopefully draw back people's curiosity and attention to the natural world and how it has been changing for hundreds of millions of years".More news: Trump wants to ban German cars from America
The fossil of Megachirella wachtleri.
Scientists made the surprising discovery of the oldest known lizard fossil deep in the Dolomites in Italy. At that time, scientists couldn't completely understand how the fossil fit into the family tree of the reptiles.
"Fossils are our only accurate window into the ancient past", Caldwell, a coauthor of the study, said in the university's statement.
"When I first saw the fossil I realised it had important features that could link it to the early evolution of lizards", study co-author Tiago Simões of the University of Alberta in Canada told the AFP. "With micro-CT, suddenly you can "flip" the fossil over out of its rock".More news: Fallout 76 release date, trailer and what to expect?
An artists impression of Megachirella wachtleri walking through the vegetation in the Dolomites 240m years ago. Flowers had not evolved, and the ground was dominated by primitive plants called lycopods (ancestors of club mosses and quillworts). The conditions under which the fossil was found - in marine sediments but surrounded by fossilized land plants - suggest that a powerful storm hit the coastline where megachirella lived and swept the tiny critter out to sea.
Researchers reported yesterday that they had found the most ancient reptile ever discovered, a tiny lizard that inhabited the Earths about 240 million years ago when our planet contained a single continent and the dinosaurs were "newcomers".
"Our results re-shape the diapsid phylogeny and present evidence that M. wachtleri is the oldest known stem squamate", the study reads.
With this fossil, Simões now has new information that helps him fill the gap and see the transition "from general reptile features to more lizard-like features".More news: Evicted 30-Year-Old Michael Rotondo Packing Up After Altercation with Dad
"It's confirming that we are pretty much clueless".
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