MAY 30, 2018 4:43 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
NOV 21, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Crucial Developmental Genes Found to Still be Active in Adulthood
NOV 21, 2021
Crucial Developmental Genes Found to Still be Active in Adulthood
Hox genes play a critical role in mapping the development of multicellular organisms. This group of genes is also expres ...
DEC 03, 2021
Health & Medicine
A Reduced-Meat Diet is Good for Your Body and the Environment, New Study Says
DEC 03, 2021
A Reduced-Meat Diet is Good for Your Body and the Environment, New Study Says
Western diets are known to cause environmental and health detriments. There are many studies on the effects of various f ...
DEC 08, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Drilling Begins for Antarctica's Oldest Ice
DEC 08, 2021
Drilling Begins for Antarctica's Oldest Ice
One of the pivotal sets of data in understanding Earth's climate have been the EPICA ice cores from Antarctica, pieces o ...
DEC 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Microplastics are getting stuck in the bones of coral reefs
DEC 09, 2021
Microplastics are getting stuck in the bones of coral reefs
Unfortunately, it’s commonplace to hear about our seas being polluted with plastic. Many articles and research pro ...
DEC 10, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Negative Effects of Road Salt
DEC 10, 2021
Negative Effects of Road Salt
As the weather gets colder, snow begins to fall, and the roads get icy. Soon, the plows will be out in force, pushing sn ...
DEC 21, 2021
Plants & Animals
Deep Under Ice in the Antarctic, Life Lurks
DEC 21, 2021
Deep Under Ice in the Antarctic, Life Lurks
Scientists were surprised to find an area deep underneath Antarctica's ice shelves teeming with life. Researchers have r ...
Loading Comments...