Over the past century, the evolutionary secrets of a #230-million-year-old #fossil lizard have been “trapped inside a block of stone.” Scientists examined the fossil that was discovered in Scotland 100 years ago using potent X-ray scans. As a result of their research, the first complete skeleton reconstruction of the animal Scleromochlus was created. This diminutive, scurrying Triassic reptile is related to the enormous, wingless pterodactyl.
Scleromochlus is a member of the group of Triassic-era fossils known as the Elgin reptiles, which were discovered in the 1900s in Lossiemouth, a small town close to Elgin, Moray. They are from a time when Pangea, Scotland’s supercontinent, was primarily a desert. Seven delicate Scleromochlus specimens that were imprisoned in sandstone were scanned and studied by Dr. Foffa and his team in close collaboration with the Natural History Museum in London, which currently houses the majority of the Elgin collection. It has been challenging to learn anything meaningful from the fossils up to now. They do, however, date to a hazy and crucial period in the fossil record, roughly 10 million years before the earliest fossil pterosaurs, which attracted the palaeontologist curiosity.
“The first pterosaurs in the fossil record are already winged – already adapted for flying – so it’s really difficult to understand where that came from,” Dr Foffa said and its anatomical details revealed by the X-ray scans that explained about the shape of its jaw and upper thigh bone and allowed the scientists to correctly place Scleromochlus on the pterosaur family tree, revealing the first flying reptiles evolved from small ground that ran around on two legs.
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