Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Paleontologists discover 250-million-year-old new species of reptile in Brazil

 Date: March 11, 2016
Source: University of Birmingham

A new fossil reptile that lived 250 million years ago in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, southernmost Brazil has been discovered by an international team of researchers. The species has been identified from a mostly complete and well preserved fossil skull.

An international team of scientists, from three Brazilian universities and one UK university, have discovered a new fossil reptile that lived 250 million years ago in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, southernmost Brazil. The species has been identified from a mostly complete and well preserved fossil skull that the team has named Teyujagua paradoxa.

The fossil was discovered in the beginning of 2015 by a team from the Paleobiology Laboratory of the Universidade Federal do Pampa (Unipampa), in a Triassic rock exposure near the city of São Francisco de Assis. This discovery, published today in the journal Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group), helps to clarify the initial evolution of the group that gave rise to dinosaurs, pterosaurs (flying reptiles), crocodiles and birds.

The name Teyujagua comes from the language of the Guarani ethnic group and means 'fierce lizard'. It references a mythological beast called Teyú Yaguá, usually depicted as a lizard with a dog´s head. Teyujagua is very different from other fossils from the same age. Its anatomy is intermediate between the more primitive reptiles and a diverse and important group called 'archosauriforms'. Archosauriformes include all the extinct dinosaurs and pterosaurs, along with modern day birds and crocodiles.

The discovery of Teyujagua is important because it lived just after the great Permo-Triassic mass extinction event that occurred 252 million years ago. This extinction wiped out about 90 per cent of all species then living and was probably triggered by giant and intense volcanic eruptions in the eastern part of what is now Russia.



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