Discovery of the oldest South American fossil lizard illustrates the cosmopolitanism of early South American squamates

Jonathas Souza Bittencourt, Tiago Rodrigues Simões, Michael Wayne Caldwell, Max Cardoso Langer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Squamates have an extremely long evolutionary history with a fossil record that extends into the Middle Triassic. However, most of our knowledge of their early evolutionary history is derived from Laurasian records. Therefore, fundamental questions regarding the early evolution of squamates in the Southern Hemisphere, such as the origins of the extremely diverse and endemic South American fauna, remain unanswered. Here, we describe a new lizard species that represents the oldest fossil squamate from South America, demonstrating that squamates were present on that continent at least 20 million years earlier than previously recorded. The new species represents the first occurrence of the extinct squamate family Paramacellodidae in South America and displays an unusual limb morphology. Finally, our findings suggest early South American squamates were part of a much broader distribution of their respective clades, in sharp contrast to the high levels of endemicity characteristic of modern faunas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number201
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Discovery of the oldest South American fossil lizard illustrates the cosmopolitanism of early South American squamates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this