University of Texas researchers discover 215 millionth crocodile ancestor

Academics at the University of Texas at Austin discovered a new species of aetosaur, called Garzapelta gallinari. (Getty Images/Kenzo Triboulard)

a group of academics from University of Texas at Austin Discovered the remains of a new species of aetosaurA prehistoric ancestor of the crocodile, called heron dockwho lived approximately 215 million years, This revelation has been published in the magazine The Anatomical Recordsheds light on Characteristics and environment of these creatures that inhabited the Earth during the Triassic period, 229 to 200 million years ago, before the Jurassic period.,

He heron dock is distinguished by fossil dorsal shellIt has been recovered in a state of 70% preservation, including significant fragments from the neck and shoulder region to the end of its tail. “Generally, very limited material is found”said to ABC News, William Reyesdoctoral student UT Jackson School of Geosciences And study leader.

it aetosaurwhose fossils were found in the county heronnorthwest of texasPresents an anatomy comparable to that of a modern-day crocodile, but with bony armor that makes it more similar to an armadillo, according to Kings, “Heron” this is for your information Heron County northwest of texaswhere the discovery was made, and “Pelta” It means shield in Latin, which refers to the well-preserved body of aetosaurs.

The classification of Garzapelta tumberi as a new species is notable for its unique osteodermal plates and distinctive markings on the bones. (William Reyes/University of Texas at Austin)

choose your name heron dockalso pays tribute to bill muellerpaleontologist of Texas Tech University Who discovered aetosaur skeletons, initially with amateur collectors emmet shed In 1989. after the death of Muller In 2019, colleagues and students have continued their work, completing some of their pending projects, including the identification of this new species.

In research its skeleton was compared white heron Significant similarities are also being discovered with other ancient aetosaurs. Unique features that confirm its classification as a new species, Formation of osteodermal plates and distinctive marks and ridges on bones white heron They separate him from his closest relatives. “Since its original discovery, many aetosaur experts have been confused by the taxonomic identity of Garzapelta”.he explained Kings,

“The heron is a great example of how impressive these animals are and it is incredible to be in a position to introduce the public to the ‘walking tanks’ that existed millions of years before the ankylosaurian dinosaurs.”The leader of the investigation said.

The fossilized dorsal shell of Garzapelta gallinari, 70% preserved, was discovered in Garza County, Texas. (William Reyes/University of Texas at Austin)

The study showed that the plates white heron They have unique characteristics, such as the way they are assembled and the patterns of bulges and ridges on the bones, that clearly distinguish them from other known species of aetosaur.

As the study progressed, researchers faced the challenge of classification white heron Due to the similarity in armor with other species, which indicates a case of convergent evolution. For example, the armor on its back resembled one species, while the spines on its stomach pointed to another species. They then determined that the spikes had evolved independently, Providing the clues necessary to properly place Garzapelta in the aetosaur family tree.,

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