Paleontologists from the United States have stumbled upon a new species called ‘Microsaur’. The new species was discovered from a small finger-sized fossilized remains of a creature that died 308 million years ago. The researchers believe that the finding will help them to unravel the mystery of the habits of small dinosaur-like animals that may be the predecessors of reptiles.
Microsaur is believed to be a small-sized lizard like animal that existed on the Earth even before the dawn of the dinosaur age. The researchers wrote in the journal Royal Society Open Science that the discovery succeeds at shedding light on the evolutionary process of various animal groups that include amphibians and reptiles. Microsaurs were abundant in numbers in the Carboniferous period. It was the time when the early siblings of present-day mammals and reptiles called as ‘amniotes’ were just being born. Study co-author Arjan Mann stated, “We still don’t know sufficient details regarding that transition. Microsaurs have recently gained importance in understanding how the amniotes came to be. Many of these creatures have been though to be the predecessors of amphibians and reptiles.”
The specimen was discovered in the central US with a reptile like body measuring about 5cms. The creature had 4 short and plump legs. Despite its small sized body, the researchers gave it another name as Joermungandr bolti which is a massive sea serpent belonging to the Norse folklores. The research team was surprised to see skin on the 300 million years old fossil of the microsaur. The analysts utilized a profoundly sensitive imaging technique called scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to get a very close glance at the almost amazing fossil. They found a pattern of edges like those found on the scales of current reptiles that dive into the ground. Alongside different highlights like a vigorous skull and prolonged body, the scale shape drove specialists to conjecture that Joermungandr burrowed too.