An international team of researchers at the Universidade Federal do Pampa recently discovered a skull dating back 250 millions of years that could provide answers regarding the evolution of reptiles since the Triassic period. The new fossilized reptiles discovered in the Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil could be the missing link between primitive reptiles and dinosaurs, paleontologists suggest.

The species found by researchers named Teyujagua paradoxa apparently lived in the Triassic period and it was an ancestor of a group of animals called archosauriforms. This particular group of animals will later give rise to dinosaurs and pterosaurs. It’s worth mentioning that the name Teyujagua is Guarani for ‘fierce lizard’ due to the aggressive look of the skull discovered in Brazil.

An international team of scientists, from Brazil and the UK, discovered a new fossil reptile that lived 250 million years ago in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil, artist’s impression pictured. Credit:

And the term paradoxa means is a testament to significant differences between this species and other contemporary fossils. The team of British and Brazilian researchers responsible for the finding believes that the reptile outlived 90 percent of prehistoric animals after a super volcano eruption triggered a mass extinction, including dinosaurs.

The Permo-Triassic mass extinction gave the animals that survived the chance to expand its new habitats freely, without worrying of predators and thus, life became more diversified. The new 250-million old species shows similar traits to modern crocodiles with nostrils on the top of a long snout.

250-million-year-old species showed modern features

The reptile also counted with teeth shaped indicating that the ancient animal ate meat on a regular basis. Researchers also noted that the reptile’s body was around 5 feet long and lived mostly in wet areas. For this particular trait, biologists involved in the study believe the newly discovered species represents the link between ancient reptiles and archosauriforms. This feature makes the Teyujagua paradoxa a distant ancestor to all modern birds.

Researchers named the new species Teyujagua paradoxa and described it in a new paper, published this week in the journal Scientific Reports. Credit: Space Battles

“Teyujagua is a really important discovery because it helps us understand the origins of a group of vertebrates called archosauriforms,” said Dr. Richard Butler from the University of Birmingham, which collaborated in the discovery.

The fossil discovered by the international team of researchers in Brazil shows a combination of features never seen before, which indicates Teyujagua creatures had a unique position in the evolutionary tree of a significant group of vertebrates.Researchers at the Universidade Federal do Pampa plan to continue with excavation in order to find further information on the skull’s origin and more clues on the evolutionary tree of species

Source: EurekAlert