Science

Scientists discover 240 million years old lizard fossil, the ultimate survivor

Scientists discover 240 million years old lizard fossil, the ultimate survivor

However, further study revealed certain lizard-like features, which hinted that the fossil might provide unique clues about squamates - the largest recent order of reptiles, comprising all lizards and snakes.

HBO's "Game of Thrones" features a "Mother of Dragons", but a fossil that's hundreds of millions of years old was recently identified as the "mother of all lizards" (and snakes, too).

Scientists say they have discovered world's oldest lizard fossil, revealing new information about the evolution of the reptiles - they might have lived among the first dinosaurs.

At the same time, this implies that the squamate group had already split from other ancient reptiles prior to the Permian/Triassic extinction which took place about 252 million years ago and had survived it. Its new home? At the beginning of the squamate branch, single-handedly dragging the timeline for lizards back 75 million years.

Scientists made the surprising discovery of the oldest known lizard fossil deep in the Dolomites in Italy.

An global team of paleontologists, which includes the University of Bristol, have identified the world's oldest lizard, providing key insight into the evolution of modern lizards and snakes.

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Lead study author Tiago Simões said, according to Live Science that scientists thought the fossil belonged to type of primitive reptile lepidosaur.

Some of those features include the shape of bones in the brain, shoulder and trunk of the fossil.

"For the first time, having that information with this highly expanded data set, now it became possible to actually assess the relationship of not only this species but also of other species of reptiles".

An artist's illustration of life in the Dolomites region of northern Italy about 240 million years ago, with Megachirella wachtleri walking through the vegetation. Scientists found that the creature's ribs, spine, front limbs, and skull were still attached to the skeleton, and over the next 10 years the fossil was closely studied and scrutinized by scientists.

Megachirella walked the Earth when the Earth's continents joined together into one land, called Pangaea. And they still need to fill in the tens of millions of years between megachirella and the next oldest squamate fossil.

"It's confirming that we are pretty much clueless", Simões said of the new species.