Ancient Iguana Ancestor, Discovered in Antarctica

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When Antarctica was not a frozen territory, there lived the ancient iguana ancestor, a mid-size reptile that ate bugs and small animals. Back then, Antarctica was not as we know it nowadays, as the region was not frozen and deserted, except some species of animals, fish, insects, and bacteria.

About 250 million years ago, in Antarctica, there lived an ancient iguana, a lizard as big as the modern-day iguana, but which was eating both bugs and small mammals, according to a recent study.

“Meet Antarctanax shackletoni, an archosaur, an early relative of dinosaurs and crocodiles. Based on their fossil findings, researchers believe that Antarctanax was a lizard-sized carnivore that ate bugs, early mammals and amphibians,” reported CBC News.

“Roughly two million years before the appearance of Antarctanax, Earth underwent its greatest mass extinction event. More than 90 percent of all animal life was wiped out. There is little evidence to suggest many archosaurs existed before the mass extinction, during the geological time period known as the Permian. However, in the following period – the early Triassic – they thrived,” the same news portal reported.

Ancient Iguana Ancestor, Discovered in Antarctica

“They’re really hard to find in the Permian period. We really have a poor record of them. That’s probably because they weren’t that common,” explained Brandon Peecook, the leading author of the study that emerged online in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

“The prevailing thought in the literature was what you found in Antarctica is a subset of what you’d find elsewhere because everything was connected. But the more work we’ve done, there’s a lot of very unique life forms in Antarctica,” the researcher added.

“There are only two places: on the coast of the continent there are islands, and the rocks there are 60 million years old or younger. The only other place is up in the very middle where there is this mountain range, the Transantarctic Mountains that just pop above the ice in intervals just like jagged peaks going down in a line,” Peecook explained.

“It’s a little more exciting than you might have expected,” the scientist concluded.

Vadim Ioan Caraiman

Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.