A group of scientists discovered the existence of a reptile the size of one iguana who was "cousin" of dinosaurs and lived about 250 million years ago in the forests of Antarctica, said Thursday (January 31, 2019) the magazine Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
"This new one animal It was one archosaurus, relative primitive of crocodiles and dinosaurs, "the researcher explained Chicago Field Museum (USA) Brandon Peecook, lead author of the study.
"By itself, it looks a little like one lizard, but evolutionarily is one of the first such great members group he emphasized. He tells us how the dinosaurs and theirs relatives the next ones have evolved and expanded ".
O fossil skeleton It is incomplete although paleontologists may have a good perception animal, baptized as Antarctanax shackletoni (The first word means "Antarctic king" and the second refers to the explorer Ernest Shackleton).
Based on the similarities with other fossils, the scientists deduced that Antarctanax was a carnivorous animal that hunted insects, protomamifers and amphibians.
However, for paleontologists, the most interesting of this reptile is the time and the place where he lived.
"The more we discover about prehistoric Antarctica, the rarer it is," Peecook reflected, "we think that Antarctic animals would be similar to those living in the south of Africa, since both terrestrial masses were united at that time. But we are discovering that the wildlife of Antarctica was surprisingly unique. "
Two million years before he lived in Antarctanax, the Earth experienced a great deal extinction due to climate change, caused by volcanic eruptions, which ended with 90% of animal life.
In later years mass extinction, new animal groups filled up the empty.
"Before the mass extinction, the arcosaurs only found themselves in the equator, but then they were everywhere, "said Peecook, who added that Antarctica had a combination of new animals and remains of specimens that disappeared from other places.
The finding of Antarctanax supports the idea that Antarctica has been a rapidly evolving place and diversity after mass extinction.
"The more types of animals we find, the more we know about the pattern of archaea that takes control after mass extinction," Peecook said.