The well-preserved skull allows scientists to identify the species called Teyujagua paradoxa. Photo: Nature.
Teyujagua paradoxa is the name of a new species of reptile that lived 250 million years ago in southern Brazil and was identified thanks to a fossil skull, virtually complete and well preserved, found in the state of Rio Grande.
The fossil was discovered in early 2015 by a team of paleontologists from the Federal University of Pampa on a rock Triassic (one of the three geological periods of the Age Mosezoica) found near the Brazilian city of Sao Francisco de Assis, as published today March 11, 2016 Scientific Reports, the Nature group.
This discovery, which helped experts from the Federal University of Pampa (Brazil) and Birmingham (UK) "helps to clarify the initial evolution of the group that gave rise to dinosaurs, pterosaurs (flying reptiles), crocodiles and birds "she explains a statement.
Teyujagua is a Guarani word that means fierce lizard and refers to a mythological beast called Teju Jagua, which is usually depicted as a dog-headed lizard. The Teyujagua was a quadruped, about 1.5 meters long, with curved teeth very sharp and serrated, indicating that their diet was carnivorous.
Nostrils the top of the nose is placed, a typical feature of some aquatic animals or semi-aquatic, like today's crocodiles. Its natural habitat is believed to be the banks of rivers and lakes, where hunting amphibians and small reptiles.
This is a very different fossil others of the same era, because their anatomy is halfway between the most primitive reptiles and the group called Archosauriformes, which includes all dinosaurs and extinct pterosaurs, with crocodiles and current birds.
The discovery of this fossil is important because the Teyujagua lived after the mass extinction of the Permian-Triassic, which occurred 252 million years ago that wiped out 90% of the species and was probably triggered by a volcanic eruption of great intensity occurring in eastern Russia today.
The Teyujagua provides new insights into how recovered and developed terrestrial ecosystems after the mass extinction. At that time, the Archosauriformes and their close relatives, as Teyujaguas were the dominant animals of terrestrial ecosystems and eventually led to the dinosaurs.
Dr. Felipe Pinheiro, of the Federal University of Pampa said the discovery of this new species was "really exciting. Since I saw that beautiful skull for the first time on the ground, still almost completely covered in stone, we knew we had something extraordinary in hands".
Once in the laboratory, the fossil exceeded the expectations of experts. "It featured a combination of features never seen before, indicating Teyujagua the only position in the evolutionary tree of an important group of vertebrates".