World’s oldest land quadruped found

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of paleontologists has identified and described a new species of short-legged tetrapod that lived exclusively on land some 330 million years ago.

The study was published in the journal Communications Biology. Fossils of an unusual creature were found on the territory of modern Scotland when examining an abandoned East Kirkton quarry. This quarry is located in the woods next to a residential complex in the town of Bathgate. For science, it is of great interest.

Previously, unknown species of ancient creatures have already been found here, but the new discovery stands out from the general row.

The remains discovered in the quarry back in the 1990s have only now been identified. They belong to the creature, which, as the authors of the scientific article say about it, was the oldest known four-legged creature that lived exclusively on land.

The age of the remains is about 330 million years. Interestingly, at that distant time, present-day Scotland was located almost on the equator. The new creature was named Termonerpeton makrydactylus, which is a combination of the phrases “border crawler” and “elongated finger”.

The fact is that the hind legs of this quadruped were equipped with five fingers, surprisingly long for their period of species evolution.

And one of the fingers was much longer than the rest. The authors of the work suggest that it was this evolutionary achievement that helped the creature adapt to difficult living conditions and avoid many threats.

Probably, representatives of the species Termonerpeton makrydactylus lived in tropical areas with lush vegetation.

By the way, that period of time is marked in the history of the Earth by increased activity of volcanoes. Scientists calculated the size of the animal from the preserved femur. Apparently, it was relatively small, its body reached a length of 75 centimeters.

It existed before the appearance of mammals and reptiles, but paleontologists believe that Termonerpeton makrydactylus is not the direct ancestor of any modern species. Apparently, he belonged to a dead end branch of evolution.


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