Fossil Lizard, Flying Dragon



The earliest known fossil remains of a lizard belong to the iguanian species Tikiguania estesi, found in the Tiki Formation of India, which dates to the Carnian stage of the Triassic period, about 220 million years ago. However, doubt has been raised over the age of Tikiguania because it is almost indistinguishable from modern agamid lizards. The Tikiguania remains may instead be late Tertiary or Quaternary in age, having been washed into much older Triassic sediments. Lizards are most closely related to a group called Rhynchocephalia, which includes the tuatara. Rhynchocephalians first appeared in the Late Triassic, so it can be inferred that the lizard-rhynchocephalian divergence occurred at this time and that the earliest lizards appeared in the Triassic. Read more ...




In the News ...





  48-Million-Year-Old Fossil Shows Insect Inside Lizard Inside Snake   Epoch Times - September 8, 2016

A glimpse into the animal kingdom's food chain 48 million years ago has been made possible by the discovery of a very unique fossil. A new study by researchers from Germany and Argentina describes the imprint showing an insect in the stomach of a lizard which had then been eaten by a snake. The specimen was found in the Messel Pit where the snake is believed to have somehow died soon after consuming its prey.




  Ancient Lizards' Skin Preserved in Rare Amber-Encased Fossils   Live Science - March 4, 2016

Amber-imprisoned lizards from Southeast Asia that date back 99 million years ago make up the oldest assemblage of tropical lizards ever found in amber, according to a new study. The tiny, trapped fossils, found in Myanmar, represent an unparalleled sampling of species diversity for tropical lizards from the Cretaceous era, which lasted from 145.5 million years ago to about 65.5 million years ago. The fossils are astonishingly well-preserved, the researchers said, including specimens with intact skin, visible skin pigment and soft tissues - and in one case, a lolling tongue. The study included remarkable close-up photographs of the lizards' scales, delicate claws and other unusually well-preserved features. One individual's spindly toes earned it the nickname "Nosferatu," after the long-fingered silent-movie vampire, said study co-author David Grimaldi, a curator in the division of invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.




Ancient Lizard Species May Be Evolutionary 'Missing Link'   Huffington Post - August 26, 2015

Paleontologists have discovered the fossilized remains of an extinct lizard species in Brazil that date back about 80 million years -- and the newly identified creature, named Gueragama sulamericana, may hold clues to the ancient history of iguanas. Modern-day iguanas are one of the most diverse groups of lizards alive today. They are categorized into two groups based on their teeth. Acrodontan iguanians, whose chompers are fused to the top of their jaws, are primarily found in the Eastern Hemisphere; non-acrodontans are primarily found in the Western Hemisphere.


Fossil remains of an Old World lizard discovered in the New World overturn long-held hypothesis of lizard evolution   PhysOrg - August 26, 2015
This fossil is an 80 million year old specimen of an acrodontan in the New World.




Oldest lizard embryos discovered in fossil eggs   PhysOrg - July 17, 2015
The eggs, roughly the size of a one-euro coin or sparrow egg, are about 125 million years old, and were discovered in Thailand in 2003. They have hard shells, unusual for lizards, and initial examinations concluded they must have been laid by a small carnivorous dinosaur or early type of bird. Not satisfied, an international team of scientists decided to look inside the fossil eggs using the powerful European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France. High-resolution, ultra-bright X-rays allowed them to observe the finest details of the minute bones inside the six knob-covered shells, and recreate the skeletons in 3D. They found features of a "hitherto unknown lizard", including a long and slender skull ending in a pointed snout, and a "quadrate" - a jaw articulation bone found in the lizard family. These embryos were neither dinosaurs, nor birds, but lizards from a group called anguimorph.




A new beginning for baby mosasaurs   PhysOrg - April 10, 2015

A new birth story for a gigantic marine lizard that once roamed the oceans. Thanks to recently identified specimens at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, paleontologists now believe that mighty mosasaurs - which could grow to 50 feet long - gave birth to their young in the open ocean, not on or near shore. The findings answer long-held questions about the initial environment of an iconic predator that lived during the time of the dinosaurs. Mosasaurs populated most waters of the Earth before their extinction 65 million years ago.




Fossil 'is first pregnant lizard'   BBC - July 21, 2011

A 120-million-year-old fossil is the oldest pregnant lizard ever discovered, according to scientists. The fossil, found in China, is a very complete 30cm (12in) lizard with more than a dozen embryos in its body. It was just days from giving birth when it died and was buried during the Cretaceous period.




Endogenous proteins found in a 70-million-year-old giant marine lizard   PhysOrg - May 2, 2011

With their discovery, the scientists Johan Lindgren, Per Uvdal, Anders Engdahl, and colleagues have demonstrated that remains of type I collagen, a structural protein, are retained in a mosasaur fossil. The scientists have used synchrotron radiation-based infrared microspectroscopy at MAX-lab in Lund, southern Sweden, to show that amino acid containing matter remains in fibrous tissues obtained from a mosasaur bone.




New Fossil Is World's Oldest Plant-Eating Lizard   National Geographic - March 24, 2008

A rare fossil discovered in Japan is the oldest known plant-eating lizard, which could shed light on an evolutionary puzzle that Charles Darwin described as an "abominable mystery," scientists say. The 130-million-year-old jaw and skull bones were unearthed in the Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan. Based on the size of the skull, the researchers estimate that the lizard measured between 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters ) in length. Prior to the new discovery, the oldest known plant-eating lizard was Dicothodon, which lived in North America about 100 million years ago.




Ancient Lizard Glided Using Its Ribs  National Geographic - March 21, 2007

Researchers from China uncovered remarkably preserved remains of the unique creature an ancient lizard that glided through the air on membranes supported by eight elongated ribs. Named Xianglong zhaoi, the bizarre animal, as seen in this artist's recreation, lived in treetops during the early Cretaceous period, which began about 144 million years ago. The animal's 6.1-inch-long (15.5-centimeter-long) skeleton (inset) was found in Liaoning province in northeastern China - complete with superbly preserved imprints of its patagium, or wing membranes. Fully extended, the patagium would have stretched about 4.5 inches (11 centimeters) across. The animal might also have been surprisingly agile in the air, as its wing features "are close to those in fast-flying birds with great maneuverability.




Hidden fossil, flying dragon   Guardian - March 20, 2007
Around 120m years ago, as the dinosaurs neared the climax of their dominion, high above their heads an extraordinary creature flitted from tree to tree. The bizarre lizard, named the "flying dragon" by its Chinese discoverers, glided using a flap of skin spread over eight ribs. The find is remarkable because almost all gliding species, such as "flying" frogs and squirrels, use a membrane spread between their toes or between their body and legs to generate lift. Only two other species evolved the rib-gliding tactic. Xianglong zhaoi is also the first lizard fossil with gliding ribs to be found. Li Pipeng and colleagues at the Shenyang Normal University in north-eastern China say: "Gliding is an energetically efficient mode of locomotion that has evolved independently, and in different ways, in several tetrapod groups." The fossil lizard, which was found in Liaoning, north-eastern China, is 15.5cm (6in) long, including a 9.5cm tail. But its strangest feature is eight elongated ribs around 4cm long, covered in a skin flap. The fossil's extraordinary preservation meant scientists could see details of the flap as well as the bones.




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