"We will have to rewrite history books and recapture the evolutionary period of the herbivorous animals," said Spencer Lucas, curator of paleontology at the Museum of Natural History and Science of New Mexico, to Efe, who described the discovery of Gordodon. , name given to the reptile, as "one of the most important discoveries".
Gordodon, which is 1.5 meters long and weighs around 34 kilos, was discovered in 2013 near the city of Alamogordo, New Mexico, by Ethan Schuth during a trip with his Geology class at the University of Oklahoma.
The group, led by Professor Lynn Soreghan, contacted Lucas and the museum in Albuquerque, an entity responsible in the following years for extracting the fossil, treatment and research, according to the Museum of Natural History and Science of this week. New Mexico (NMMNHS, for its abbreviation in English).
The unique structure of the skull, jaws and type of teeth of the reptile indicate that it was a herbivore, properties that were not known in this type of animals of more than 200 million years old.
According to Lucas, Gordodon lived in the Permian period, some 50 million years before they introduced dinosaurs.
"It is more similar to us, mammals, than with dinosaurs," the researcher said, noting that the name Gordodon comes from the combination of the word in Spanish "fat" and the Greek word "odon" or tooth, because of his long, pointy teeth on the tip of his jaws.
Lucas, together with researcher Matt Celeskey, identified the fossil as a new species of herbivores and would be equivalent in size and weight to what is now a labrador.
Another important aspect of the discovery is that the first herbivores were considered to eat all types of plants, but the reptile found in New Mexico "also ingested seeds and fruit," as sheep, deer and rabbits currently do, the researcher says. .
"We have indications that Gordodon was more selective in what he ate," Lucas said.