MAY 30, 2018 04:43 PM PDT

Researchers Say This is the "Mother of All Lizards"

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Unraveling the mysteries of prehistoric life on Earth can be a daunting task. Researchers often derive clues from unearthed fossils, allowing them to establish a timeline and comprehend how modern wildlife evolved.

The circumstances surrounding a 240 million-year-old fossil from Italy are no different. In fact, researchers who had the opportunity to study this fossil say that it paints a detailed picture about the oldest-known lizard to walk the Earth. The findings have been published in the journal Nature this week.

An artist's impression of Megachirella, the 240-million-year-old lizard.

Image Credit: Davide Bonadonna

"When I first saw the fossil, I realized it had important features that could link it to the early evolution of lizards," explained study co-author Tiago Simões of the University of Alberta in Canada in a statement.

Captivatingly, the discovery also indicates that "lizards inhabited the planet since at least 240 million years ago," or more than 75 million years earlier than initially thought, Simões continued.

Related: Why do some lizards have green blood?

The fossil in question is of a lizard species named Megachirella wachtleri, which is now being coined as the ‘Mother of All Lizards.’ Scientists originally discovered the fossil almost 15 years ago, but modern CT scan technology provides researchers with a closer look at the fossil’s finer details.

While the lizard only measured about three inches in length, it’s still a significant find because most modern-day squamates, including various lizards and snakes, are probably related to this one common ancestor.

"It’s confirming that we are pretty much clueless," Simões added.

"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."

By carefully analyzing this, and potentially other fossils, researchers may uncover more about early life on the planet and fill a rather substantial gap in lizard-related evolution history. It should be interesting to see what additional research digs up in that regard.

Source: Washington Post

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JAN 18, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 18, 2020
The Power of Cannabis Hairs Revealed With Microscopy, Genetic Testing
What role do cannabis plant hairs play in the production of cannabinoids and terpenes? A recent study from the University of British Columbia, published in...
JAN 18, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 18, 2020
Even Different Species of Butterflies Can Easily Share Genes
After assessing the genomes of twenty species of butterflies, scientists were surprised to find that genes flow easily between them....
JAN 18, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 18, 2020
Plants Moved to Land by Stealing Genes from Soil Bacteria
Algae were the first pants on earth, and they lived underwater. How they managed to move onto land was largely a mystery, until now. By studying the genome...
JAN 18, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 18, 2020
Tiny Fossils Reveal California's Ocean Acidification History
A century’s worth of microscopic shells has revealed that ocean acidification is occurring in California waters at twice the rate of the global avera...
JAN 18, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 18, 2020
Water Lily Genome Provides Insight Into Flowering Plant Evolution
The genomic sequence of an ancient flowering plant, the water lily Nymphaea colorata, has been revealed....
JAN 18, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 18, 2020
An Albatross Mother's Work is Never Done
Albatross chicks are naturally flightless, and this increases their dependence on their parental units to bring back food for them to eat. In this chick&rs...
Loading Comments...