Scientists have discovered the fossils of a huge "mammalian" reptile that roamed the Earth 210 million years ago, weighing 9,000 kg (19,841 lbs.) Making it the largest four-legged non-dinosaur that populated the Triassic. .
The fossils also offer one of the latest known examples of a gigantic herbivore, suggesting that this ancestor of the mammal could survive in the age when dinosaurs had become dominant.
The team of Swedish and Polish paleontologists publishes in the influential scientific journal and reports that the fossils that they have excavated belong to a previously undiscovered species, which they have named Lisowicia Bojani (after the Polish village in which they were found).
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The Lisowicia Bojani belongs to a group of prehistoric animals known as dicynodonts, herbivorous reptiles that walked on four legs and shared many of the characteristics of their distant ancestors: the mammals that inhabit the earth today (including humans).
It was previously believed that the dicynodont group first emerged around 252 million years ago and began to die out in the Late Triassic (about 220 million years ago) when dinosaurs began to become the dominant group.
However, the team was able to date the newly discovered fossils between 210 and 205 million years ago, making it 10 million years younger than previously discovered dicynodont samples.
Interestingly, the fossils that the team excavated would have belonged to an animal that weighed about 9,000 kg, 4.5 meters long and 2.5 meters long.
Not only is this 40% heavier than a previously found dicynodont, but like the Dr. Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki from Uppsala University explains, Lisowicia bojani in the same class as the dinosaurs.
"Dicynodonts were incredibly successful animals in the Middle and Late Triassic," he says.
"Lisowicia is the youngest dicynodont and the largest non-dinosaur terrestrial tetrapod from the Triassic It is normal to want to know how dicynodonts became so large." Lisowicia is hugely exciting because it nourishes holes in many of our classic ideas from the Trias mammal "& # 39; reptiles & # 39;
First started in 2005, but only recorded today, the excavation of the Lisowicia Bojani in Poland reveals for the first time that mammalian dicynodonts lived at the same time as the sauropodomorphic group of dinosaurs, including the Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus species.
And for those interested in evolution, the excavation also proves that some of the mammalian characteristic anatomical features – such as upright limbs – were also present in dicynodonts and similar herbivorous reptiles.
It is therefore an important finding, one that forces prehistoric and paleontologists to revise their theories on the Triassic of the Earth and on the evolution of mammals.
As co-author Dr. ir. Tomasz Sulej concludes: "The discovery of such an important new species is a unique discovery."
This story originally appeared in The Sun.