By Mindy Weisberger
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” features a “Mother of Dragons,” but a fossil that’s hundreds of millions of years old was recently identified as the “mother of all lizards” (and snakes, too).
This ancient lizard was the direct ancestor of approximately 10,000 species alive today that have inhabited the planet for more than 240 million years.
Paleontologists initially described the tiny reptile, Megachirella wachtleri,in 2003. But recent scans revealed features in the fossil that were hidden, enabling scientists to identify Megachirella as the oldest known ancestor in the squamate lineage — the reptile group that includes lizards and snakes.
Megachirella, which predates the fossils previously thought to belong to the earliest squamates by around 75 million years, bridged the gap between the oldest known squamates and the estimated origins of this reptile group derived from molecular data, researchers reported in a new study.
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