If HBO has a fictional Mother of Dragons in their popular Game of Thrones TV show, it seems that the real world also has a Mother of Lizards. A 240-million-year-old fossil that has been recently discovered had the honor to receive this special title. This ancient lizard, scientifically called Megachirella wachtleri, is the ancestor of at least 10,000 different species alive today. Initially, paleontologists described this fossil back in 2003. However, some recent scans have revealed certain hidden details. This allowed experts to identify this fossil as the oldest ancestor in the squamate lineage which includes both lizards and snakes.
According to a new study which the journal Nature recently published, this fossil might fill the gap between the oldest squamates and their origins which experts have derived from molecular data. Experts discovered this ancient fossil somewhere in the Italian Alps, in the northern part of the country. Initially, judging from its age, experts thought that it belonged to a lepidosaur, a very primitive reptile. However, because it had clear lizard-like features, scientists wanted to take a second look at it. According to Tiago Simões, the lead author of the study, the fossil deserved scanning once again, for details.
The real Mother of Lizards has finally been discovered
It was important to establish this species’ place in the evolutionary tree of reptiles. It seems that the team was not wrong to look again. In order to reveal these details, they used CT scans and built computer models of the fossil. This way, the team managed to find certain aspects, very significant for squamates.
It seems that the evolutionary puzzle is now even more complete, after the discovery of this important missing piece. Squamate origins is a very interesting subject, one that should receive a lot more attention, especially now.
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