• News
  • Science

Researchers have found an old ancestor to lizards and snakes

Researchers have found an old ancestor to lizards and snakes

Scientists concluded that the fossilised skeleton belongs to a previously unknown species found to be the direct ancestor of approximately 10,000 species, including some snakes.

Lizards and snakes belong to a family of animals called squamates, and today there are nearly 10,000 different species slithering around the world's deserts, backyards, forests and mountains.

The chameleon-sized Megachirella fossil was discovered 20 years ago.

That, in turn, suggested that squamates had already split from other ancient reptiles before the Permian/Triassic mass extinction some 252 million years ago, and survived it.

Since this discovery, scientists didn't know much about the early stages of lizard and snake evolution, even though there are twice as many different species of them as mammals, the University of Bristol notes. Recently, researchers determined the fossil was 240 million years old. Its new home? At the beginning of the squamate branch, single-handedly dragging the timeline for lizards back 75 million years.

Michael Caldwell is the co-author of the study and a paleontologist at the University of Alberta. Researchers couldn't figure out what type of reptile it was and how far back it dated.

To arrive at their conclusions, coauthor of the study Tiago Simoes says that he traveled to more than 50 museums and universities in 17 countries to collect fossil data and study living reptiles to understand their evolution. At a synchrotron facility, Simões and his colleagues identified features in the animal's brain case, collar bone and wrists that are unique to lizards.

The authors of the study stated they have given the paleontological world some kind of Rosetta Stone for reptile evolution and a fair beginning of the evolutionary tree.

"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".

Megachirella wachtleri walks through plants in this artist's impression of the Italian Dolomites region, about 240 million years ago. Flowers had not evolved, and the ground was dominated by primitive plants called lycopods (ancestors of club mosses and quillworts).

An global team of researchers have recently been poring over a Megachirella fossil found back in 2003, and have now been able to confirm that the species is the oldest known lizard, which lived 240 million years ago during the Triassic period.

Findings reveal that Megachirella lived along shorelines. "But on the positive side, we also have all this extra information in terms of the transition from more general reptile features to more lizard-like features".

Leave Your Comment

Leave Your Comment

Latest News

Breaking News


Capitals favored over Knights in Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final

Physicality has been in the forefront of the Capitals' game all season, and Vegas wants to match it in the Stanley Cup finals. The Knights, meanwhile, are 6-2 on the road in the playoffs and have yet to lose two straight in any fashion this spring.

Tesla Model 3 earns Consumer Reports recommendation with brake update

Thanks Consumer Reports for excellent critical feedback!' But in a test after the update , the stopping distance fell to 133 feet. He later said that they found an issue with the "ABS calibration algorithm" that could result in some inconsistent results.

Denmark Passes Law Banning Islamic Niqab and Burqa Face Veils

Violators would receive fines of about $156 for a first-time offense, and up to $1,568 for the fourth violation. Austria's law on banning the full-face Muslim garment in public spaces came into force previous year .

Paolo Guerrero Cleared to Play World Cup

The sports court decided a ban through January 2019 was an "appropriate sanction.in light of Mr Guerrero's degree of fault". But WADA appealed the length of the suspension to the CAS.

Sixers, Brown agree to 3-year extension | Sportsxchange

Before joining the Sixers, Brown spent over a decade on the bench alongside Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs. But as the Sixers stockpiled young talent - and that talent got healthy - Brown had a capable squad on the court.

Trump insists he didn't fire Comey over Russian Federation probe

McCabe that suggest potential criminal conduct by the President", Bromwich said. "And then he said, 'I'm free of this guys'". The firing is now under investigation by Mueller for possible obstruction of justice.

I felt like superhero - Serena Williams

This time there was a little rust to shake off - she only gave birth in September - and she didn't quite move as when at her best. The Romanian broke the 72nd-ranked American in the first game and jumped to a 5-1 lead. "It was hard for me", she told Harper's.

Summit hangs on Kim letter after nuclear talks make progress

An extraordinary flurry of diplomacy since then - much of it led by South Korea - appears to have put the meeting back on track. But unlike Jo, Kim will meet the U.S. secretary of state, not the president, and is going to NY and not Washington.

New vitamin supplement study finds they may do more harm than good

The study reviewed 179 trials on vitamin and mineral supplement use published in English from January 2012 to October 2017. FMI: The review can be read in full on the website for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology .

Trump accuses Mueller of 'meddling' in upcoming midterm elections

Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment". "The president is fine with it, he's innocent", Giuliani said. Federal Elections Fee (FEC) data present that some on Mueller's crew have donated cash to Democratic causes.