Mesozoic

Published on May 30th, 2018 | by Liz Martin-Silverstone

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Episode 92: Squamate Origins

Squamates are a group of reptiles that include lizards and snakes, with the earliest fossils occurring in the Jurassic, despite molecular studies dating the group back to the Triassic. The study of their origins has been contentious because of this gap, and the lack of fossils during this time period.

However, a new look at a previously-known fossil has changed our view of squamate origins, and discussing this animal and what it means about reptile relationships and squamates is Dr. Tiago Simões of the University of Alberta. This episode is based on a new paper published in Nature by Dr. Simões and colleagues.

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Specimen of Megachirella wachtleri from the Middle Triassic of Italy, in dorsal view.

Computed tomography (CT) reconstruction of Megachirella, in dorsal view. From Simões et al. 2018.

CT reconstruction of the skull of Megachirella, in dorsal view. Image from Simões et al. 2018.

Life reconstruction of Megachirella wachtleri. Image copyright Davide Bonadonna.

Dated phylogenetic tree showing the relationships of major diapsid and squamate groups. From Simões et al. 2018.

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