Gordodon had a great sail on his back. (Shipping: New Mexico Natural History Museum, Matt Celeskey)
The "remarkably preserved" remains of a 300 million-year-old wreckage have been found in the United States, rewriting "the famous evolutionary chronology," says the Natural History Museum in New Mexico.
- The skeleton belongs to a new kind of scientist called Gordodon kraineri
- Gordodone comes from the Spanish word gordo, or fat, and the Greek word odon, or the tooth
- Its length is about 1.5 meters and weighs about 34 kilograms
The museum made the announcement this week, saying that the unique structure of the skull, the jaws and the teeth of the reptiles shows that it is a herbivore and that such specialized nutrition of plants was not previously known in reptiles older than 200 million years ago.
Bones are part of a "exquisitely preserved but incomplete skeleton," says a museum statement.
"The skeleton is that of an eupelicosaur, sailed in, a group of animals that were very successful during the Peruvian [Period]said the museum.
"The Eupelicozas include the ancestors of the mammals, making this new skeleton more closely related to us than the dinosaurs."
The name of the new dinosaur honors an Austrian geologist. (Supply: Natural History & Science Museum in New Mexico)
Palinologist curator Spencer Lucas and his team from the museum have determined that the bones are about 300 million years old, meaning that the reptiles lived at the beginning of the Peruvian period or more than 50 million years before the dinosaurs came from.
Dr. Lucas and research associate Matt Seleske identified the skeleton as belonging to a new genus and species, which they called Gordodon the Queen.
Dr. Lucas was part of the fossil-museum team. (Supply: Natural History & Science Museum in New Mexico)
Gordodon originates from the Spanish word gordo (grease) and the Greek word odon (tooth) because the species has large teeth at the tip of the jaws.
The name kraineri honors Karl Krainer, an Austrian geologist who has contributed to the knowledge of the Permian period in New Mexico.
"Gordodon rewrites the books by pushing back our understanding of the development of such a special herbivore of about 100 million years," said Dr. Lucas.
Gordodon was about 1.5 meters in length and weighed about 34 kilograms.
Gordodon shares some features with modern goats and deer. (Shipping: Natural History & Science Museum in New Mexico)
It was thought to be selectively powered by high energy plants, thanks to the sophisticated structure of the skull, jaws and teeth.
Museum experts have reported that other early herbivorous reptiles have not been selective and have relaxed on any plants they have encountered.
They said Gordodon had some of the same specializations found in modern animals like goats and deer.
Fossil bones are found near Alamogordo in southern New Mexico, by Eaton Sutt, while field trips are taking place at the University of Oklahoma in 2013.
The field teams spent about a year collecting the bones from the site and taking more time to remove the hard sandstone surrounding the fossils to get the study.
Details of the findings were published in the edition of Paleontology Electronics in November.
AP / ABC
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