Scientists uncovered the fossils of a lizard that they believed once walked on the surface of waters in the state of Wyoming, United States.
The relatives of the Babibasiliscus alxi are the awesome Jesus Lizard group, whose members are thriving today in the warm climate from the region between central Mexico and northern Colombia.
The researchers named the lizard Babibasiliscus alxi and determined it was the oldest known member of the Corytophanidae group to which the Jesus lizard belongs. The evolutionary history of this group remains poorly understood, due to the small number of fossils available for study.
The author said the lizard ancestor was most likely active in the day, skimming across the surface of Wyoming’s warm waters and shimmying up trees in the lush tropical paradise.
These types of studies and discoveries suggest the ways in which different species migrated from one part of the earth to another and the reasons of their survival for so many years. This ridge also had another interesting goal, as it provided a menacing look tot he lizard that must have proven useful for keeping unwanted animals away.
The agile reptile, described in the journal PLOS ONE, provides clues on how Jesus lizards evolved, and what their early habitats were like. The teeth were suitable for eating snakes, lizards, fish, insects, and plants, and the fairly large cheekbone is an indication that the lizard may have consumed larger prey items as well.
Jack Conrad from American Museum of Natural History who named the lizard told Discovery News that “Babi” is a Shoshone Native American word meaning older male cousin.
Conrad believes the ancient lizard’s descendants and their migration south can teach us about climate change and how it will affect other tropical species. Other modern day species of Jesus lizards include iguanas and chameleons.
In a press release, Jack Conrad, co-author and assistant professor of anatomy at the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, explained a bit about their findings, “Given our current period of global climate fluctuation, looking to the fossil record offers an important opportunity to observe what is possible, and may give us an idea of what to expect from our dynamic Earth”.
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