Blogs about reptiles

Dromomeron gregorii fossil (Photo courtesy Sterling Nesbitt)

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports a study on Dromomeron gregorii, an archodon reptile that lived just over 210 million years ago, in the Triassic period. A team of researchers subjected recently discovered fossil skulls of this species to a micro-CT scan to reconstruct the structure of their brains and sensory systems. This allowed them to detect many similarities with pterosaurs that, together with other anatomical similarities, convinced them that they’re the ancestors of these flying reptiles.

Kopidosaurus perplexus fossil with its 3D reconstructions

An article published in the journal “Scientific Reports” describes a new species of lizard now extinct that lived in present-day Wyoming, in the USA, about 52 million years ago, in the Eocene period. Simon Scarpetta, a paleontology student at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, named it Kopidosaurus perplexus because the various analyzes carried out on the available fossil skull give different results regarding its classification. The relationships also vary considerably depending on the type of analysis conducted, underlining the difficulties and uncertainties that may exist in both paleontology and biology field.

Gavialimimus almaghribensis fossil

An article published in the “Journal of Systematic Palaeontology” reports the identification of a new species of mosasaur that lived between 66 and 72 million years ago, in the Cretaceous period. A team of researchers led by Catie Strong, a student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta, Canada, named it Gavialimimus almaghribensis after examining a skull and some bones discovered in a mine in present-day Morocco. The researchers noted the similarities of the teeth with those attributed to Platecarpus ptychodon, another mosasaur whose fossils were discovered in Morocco, but question the taxonomic validity of that species, so they created a whole new genus for the identified species.

The stomach of the fossil of Guizhouichthyosaurus tangae

An article published in the journal “Science” reports the study of the fossil remains of an ichthyosaur whose almost complete skeleton includes some sort of extras in the form of the fossil remains of another reptile, a thalattosaur of the species Xinpusaurus xingyiensis, in its stomach. A team of researchers examined these fossils discovered in China and dating back to the Triassic period attributing them to a Guizhouichthyosaurus tangae, a species belonging to the group of ichthyosaurs. There are arguments among paleontologists that they could be apex predators in their ecosystems, and the fact that an ichthyosaur devoured an animal as large as a thalattosaur is considered evidence that at least that species was indeed an apex predator.

Oculudentavis khaungraae fossil

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports the identification of a small bird-like dinosaur from the examination of a skull preserved in a piece of amber dating back to about 99 million years ago, in the Cretaceous period, found in Myanmar. A team of researchers named it Oculudentavis khaungraae and it could be the smallest dinosaur ever, with a size comparable to a hummingbird’s. However, the identification is disputed even if, at least for now, counterarguments have only been published in an article of the Chinese Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP).