Ancient armoured animal leads to rethink of reptile evolutionary tree

Ancient armoured animal leads to rethink of reptile evolutionary tree


Fossilised remains of a 250-million-year-old animal are leading to a new understanding of how reptiles evolved in the wake of Earth’s largest mass extinction

By Sofia Quaglia

Artist illustration of Prosaurosphargis yingzishanensis

Prosaurosphargis yingzishanensis – an ancient predator that is helping us understand reptile evolution

Andrzej S Wolniewicz, Yuefeng Shen, Qiang Li, et al.

A chunky, 1.5-metre-long armoured predator that lived some 250 million years ago may upend our understanding of reptile evolution.

Fossils of the novel species – named Prosaurosphargis yingzishanensis, because it was found in the Yingzishan quarry in Hubei province, China – were unearthed in 2019. The rocks in which the fossils were found indicate that the animal lived in salty lagoons. It was one of the larger marine reptiles on Earth at the time, says Andrzej Wolniewicz at the Hefei …

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