• 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


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.

JR Smith: Cavs coach reveals TRUTH behind freakish NBA Finals sequence

As much as we like to act as though James is superhuman, he could not spend the entire game bulldozing defenders out of the way. The Golden State Warriors drew first blood in the 2018 NBA Finals with a 124-114 overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers .

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 .

Pakistan fined for slow over-rate during Lords Test

But the former was gone in only the second over - before Pakistan could even get their hands on the second new ball. For his terrific 8-wicket haul in the match, Mohammad Abbas was awarded the man of the match.

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.

Jerseys for fans if Cavs win title

The tweet was retweeted more than 135,000 times as of noon EST on Monday, a number that continues to climb at a speedy rate. When one person replied, "Zero percent chance he delivers", Randall retweeted and commented, "100% chance".

IOS 12 could turn your iPhone into your doorkey

And according to another person familiar with Apple's plans for the Apple Watch, there will be two new models unveiled at WWDC. Bloomberg reports that Apple is planning refreshes for the MacBook and MacBook Pro, the iPad Pro, and the Apple Watch .

Joel Embiid's instant reaction to Bryan Colangelo controversy

Colangelo, the son of longtime sports executive Jerry Colangelo, stepped in with the Sixers after Hinkie resigned. Colangelo has been blamed by Philly fans for the so-far disastrous deal that brought Fultz to the Sixers.

Russian journalist: Pig’s blood, make-up artist helped fake my death

Ukrainian authorities accuse Russian Federation of trying to destabilize Ukraine through a series of targeted assassinations. He was given US$40,000 to organise the murder , US$30,000 for the killer and US$10,000 for being an intermediary, it said.

Populist PM to lead new Italian government

Attention has shifted away from Italy and toward President Trump's threat of a trade war with Europe . Mattarella vetoed the League-Five Star pick for economy minister, Eurosceptic Paolo Savona .