A fossil skull leads researchers to believe that there are new clues on the evolution of dinosaurs. The fossil was discovered decades ago, but it hasn’t drawn the attention of specialists until now. They found that the peculiar features of the specimen might be related to creatures existing before dinosaurs.
The fossil skull was an item in the collection of the University of Texas. It was dug up from a site in the early 1930s or 1940s, which is more than eighty years ago. Paleontologist Michelle Stocker found it again by mistake and decided to re-examine it, as it was still covered in dirt.
A team of researchers at the University of Texas analyzed the fossil skull. It is shaped like a dome, and it is remarkably thick. According to specialists’ estimations, the relic is approximately 230-million years old. However, there is another significant thing they have observed about their study object, namely that it resembled the skull of a dinosaur, but the specimen wasn’t a dinosaur.
Specialized scans showed that the skull might have belonged to a pachycephalosaurus. However, paleontologists are sure that this is not the fossil skull of a dinosaur that might have lived before the dinosaurs’ age itself. They point out that there are features of the brain case which stand as proof against the classification of the specimen as a dinosaur.
Based on the information that they were able to gather from the fossil skull, scientists can now state that the animal was related to both crocodiles and dinosaurs. The specimen is supposed to have walked the Earth in the Triassic age, long before dinosaurs existed.
The discovery is of great importance for the scientific community. This is a case of different animals developing similar features throughout their evolution. It also means that dinosaurs have a distant reptile relative which displayed similar features as they did. However, dinosaurs have been studied more in-depth than these other reptiles, and this is why they were considered to be unique.
Researchers have evidence of other cases of similarities between dinosaurs and reptile species. According to them, in the Triassic age also lived a reptile which shared significant features to nowadays crocodiles. All of these observations account for a typical behavior of the animals living in those distant ages, namely the tendency of repeating a particular body pattern.
Specialists intend to investigate the problem further. They believe that insignificant relics can turn out to be gold mines in the scientific field, as the fossil skull proved to be one itself.
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