Old reptile the size of a gecko with & # 39; large, blunt, tusk-like teeth & # 39; lived 237 million years ago on the supercontinent Gondwana
- Researchers discovered the fossils in the Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil
- Experts say they are the oldest known fossils of their kind found in Gondwana
- It would someday be Africa, Antarctica, Australia, India and South America
- Scientists believe that the teeth of the tusks may have been used for defense or mating
An old reptile the size of a gecko with & # 39; large, blunt, tusk-like teeth & # 39; lived 237 million years ago on the southern supercontinent Gondwana, a new study reveals.
Petrified jaws and skull bones of the creature were discovered in rocks that date from the Triassic.
That makes it the oldest known fossil of its kind in Gondwana, which would eventually become Africa, Antarctica, Australia, India and South America.
An old reptile the size of a gecko with & # 39; large, blunt, tusk-like teeth & # 39; lived 237 million years ago on the southern supercontinent Gondwana, a new study reveals. Depicted: unique teeth found in the jaw bones of the creature
Researchers at Midwestern University discovered the fossils in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil.
They say that the new species, known as Clevosaurus hadroprodon, was a small animal, comparable in size to ordinary house geckos.
It belongs to the Sphenodontia, a group of lepidosaurs, including snakes, lizards and amphisbaens.
This group was very diverse and widespread during the Mesozoic era – including the Trias, Jura, and Creataceous periods around 250 to 65 million years ago – but today has only one remaining living species in New Zealand.
The name & # 39; hadroprodon & # 39; is Greek for & # 39; larger first tooth & # 39; in reference to the tusk-like teeth on the creature.
"Clevosaurus hadroprodon is an important discovery because it combines a relatively primitive row of sphenodontic teeth with the presence of massive tusk-like teeth," said Annie Schmaltz Hsiou, associate professor at the University of São Paulo and head of the study.
& # 39; These may not have been used for food, but rather used for sailor competition or defense. & # 39;
That discovery makes it the oldest known fossil of its kind in Gondwana. The Pangea supercontinent began to fragment about 250 million years ago and produced the northern land mass known as Laurasia and the southern land mass Gondwana (photo)
The teeth of Clevosaurus hadroprodon is an unexpected mix of primitive and derived teeth.
It is the oldest of the typical full acrodont teeth – teeth fused to the top of the jaw bones – of sphenodontians, but most of its teeth are relatively simple and knife-like.
This differs from other, slightly younger Clevosaurus species that have well-developed medial-posteromedial – side-by-side – tooth extensions for complex grinding.
In addition to unique dentures, the authors emphasize that it also contributes to the growing evidence that the early diversification of sphenodontians took place in the widely separated Gondwana regions that were destined to become South America and India.
This illustrates the importance of the role of the Gondwan lepidosaurus fauna in our growing understanding of the earliest stages of sphenodontic evolution and the global biogeographic distribution of lepidosaurus.
The full findings were published in the journal Scientific reports.
WHAT WAS GONDWANA?
Only 70 years ago, most scientists thought that the continents of the earth were in position from the beginning of time.
While geologists continued to study earth rocks and paleontologists considered the locations of fossils, a new theory became popular.
It argued that the land masses of the Earth have been busy with a beautiful waltz in the history of the planet.
This dance continues today as the oceans, mountains and valleys continue to change as a result of the movement of the Earth's tectonic plates.
The Pangea supercontinent began to fragment about 250 million years ago and produced the northern land mass known as Laurasia and the southern land mass Gondwana.
Then the enormous land mass of Gondwana began to break apart about 165 million years ago.
This process took a long time. One of the last areas to separate was Tasmania, Australia, from Antarctica about 45 million years ago.
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