ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The earliest known example of reptilian eating plants was found in the fossil record in southern New Mexico, says the New Mexico Natural History Museum.
The museum published this announcement, saying that the unique structure of the skull supported by sailings and jaws suggests that it is a botanist and that such a special plant of plant origin was not previously known in reptiles older than 200 million years ago.
Fossil bones were discovered near Alamogordo by Ethan Shut while on field trips to the class at the University of Oklahoma in 2013. The bones were part of an exceptionally well-preserved but incomplete skeleton.
Field crews spent about a year collecting bones from the site and for a long time have been spent to remove the hard sandstone around the fossils so that research can be carried out.
The palaeontologist spener Lucas and his museum team found that bones were about 300 million years old, meaning that the reptile lived in the early Permian period or more than 50 million years before the origin of the dinosaurs.
Lucas and research associate Matt Cheleski identified the skeleton as a member of a new species and species that they called Gordon's finches. Gordodon is derived from the Spanish word Gordo, or from grease, and Greek word odon, or tooth, because the type had large stitched teeth on the tips of the jaws.
The name of the species kraineri is honored by Karl Krainer, an Austrian geologist who contributed to the knowledge of the Permian period in New Mexico.
"Gordon is reviewing the books by pushing back our understanding of the evolution of such specialized vegetation for about 100 million years," Lucas said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Gordodon was 1.5 meters long and weighed about 34 pounds. It was believed to be a selective feeder of plants with high nutrition due to the advanced structure of the skull, jaws and teeth.
Experts at the museum say that other early herbaceous reptiles are not selective, clinging to any plants they encountered. They say that Gordon had some of the same specializations found in modern animals like goats and deer.
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