Tiny ancient reptile named after Thor’s world-ending nemesis - Livescience.com
Jul 21, 2021 1 min, 37 secs

The near-complete fossil dates to about 310 million years agoJ

This creature is a microsaur ("small lizard"), an early group of reptiles that were among the first vertebrates (animals with backbones) to evolve on land.

bolti had a slender, elongated body with short limbs and a blunt skull, and the fossil was so well preserved that it retained impressions of specialized scales that resemble dirt-repelling scales in modern reptiles.

The microsaur fossil was in the collection of Chicago's Field Museum, and it came from Mazon Creek in Illinois, where deposits have preserved numerous fossils of complete or near-complete organisms dating to the Carboniferous period (about 359 million to 299 million years ago).

bolti ("bolti" is a nod to the late paleontologist John R. Bolt, an emeritus curator of fossil amphibians and reptiles at the Field Museum) is a microsaur from a group called Recumbirostra, which was around for about 40 million to 50 million years, "from the middle of the Carboniferous to the early Permian [299 million to 251 million years ago]," said lead study author Arjan Mann, a postdoctoral fellow of paleobiology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. .

Mann told Live Science that most fossils in this microsaur group come from the Permian, so J.

Oval, ridged scales covered the body, and the robust skull had some fused bones, likely to help the microsaur withstand the pressures of digging, Mann said.

"We think this was something like a headfirst burrower; the head would smack into the soil to dig holes like modern reptiles do," Mann said J.

bolti's elongated shape would have enabled the microsaur to wriggle and writhe over the ground like a snake, and "its scales appear to have patterns that are similar to what we see in modern fossorial [digging] reptile scales, which may have been used to shed dirt.".

Most early amniotes look like small lizards, and current interpretation of the fossil record suggests that the transition to more diverse forms was slow.


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