48 Million Year Old Fossil Of Water Walking Lizard Found In Wyoming
Scientists have unearthed a 48-million-year-old fossil of a ‘Jesus lizard’, named for its talent of walking on water, in the state of Wyoming.
A region spanning from central Mexico to northern Colombia is home to modern relatives of the Jesus lizard. The reptiles thrive in the higher temperatures found at the equator.
Various animal, plant, fungal, and other lifeforms now restricted to the tropics or subtropical areas are frequently found in the fossil record at mid-to-high latitudes, dating back to warm periods of our planet’s history.
What is now Wyoming was, during the Eocene epoch, roughly 16 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it is now. Lead author Jack Conrad, from American Museum of Natural History, speaking to Live Science, said:
“During the Eocene, that part of the country was almost like a tropical rainforest. There were lots of trees, freshwater lakes and rivers.”
In the study, Conrad suggests the lizard, named Babibasilscus alxi, was probably active during the day and spent a lot of time in trees. On it’s skull a ridge of bone gave it an enraged look and gave it’s eyes shade.
Each of the lizard’s small tooth had three points that would have been handy for eating lizards, fish, snakes, insects and plants. And with a relatively large cheekbone, the lizard could have consumed larger prey in addition.
The author also surmises that the two-foot long Babibasiliscus alxi may have skimmed across the surfaces of lush, watery wetlands in Wyoming, which at the time likely had a climate similar to today’s tropics.