The pre-reptile, known as Bunostegos akokanensis, is believed to be the first of its kind, a new study, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, reveals.
A quarter of a billion years ago, the super continent of Pangaea may have been inhabited by these one-of-a kind reptiles. Scientists believed that, in the Permian era, the Bunostegos moved similarly to other animals who wandered the continent. These animals were sprawlers. Their limbs, scientists explain, originated from the sides of the animals’ bodies.
However, according to Morgan Turner, lead author of the study, the Bunostegos did not move like other Pangaean sprawlers. Its humerus was not twisted, much like other lizard-like sprawlers, where the specific twist would allow the animal’s humerus to be projected sideways towards the shoulder and be bent from the elbow.
“Imagine a cow-sized, plant-eating reptile with a knobby skull and bony armor down its back,”
Linda Tsuji, of the Royal Ontario Museum, explains. Together with her co-authors, Tsuji found the unique reptilian fossils in Niger. She explains that many of the animals inhabiting the super continent at that time exhibited a semi-upright or upright limb posture. Yet even so, the Bunostegos also exhibits particularities where its forelimbs are concerned.
Turner explains that it’s the reptile’s particular anatomy that bewildered scientists. It is seemingly sprawling-precluding, so that it differed any other kind of animal that lived at that time.
The animal’s habitat may have been connected with learning how to stand on all fours, say the scientists who report their findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. In Niger, which was an arid area 260 million years ago, would have been more efficient to walk on all fours than to sprawl. Of course, there’s a lot that paleontologists still need to understand about the reptiles that walked the earth at that time, Turner notes.
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