'Jesus Lizard' lived in tropical Wyoming millions of years ago
An ancient, fossilized species was recently discovered and its details were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The creature located in the area of present-day Wyoming and estimated to have lived 48-million years ago, is part of the reptile group known as casquehead lizards.
This family is known to have members who are called Jesus lizards because they can run largely on top of water.
The study author believes that the approximately two-foot long animal preferred working during the daytime since its skull had a protruded bone that could help shield its eyes from the sun.
In terms of food, the small, three-pointed teeth indicate an ability to process plants and small prey like snakes, fish, and insects, but a large cheek area could mean more substantial animals were eaten as well.
An analysis of the lizard's lineage ties it closely with modern reptiles, but they are mostly concentrated in and around the warmth of Central America.
This shift southward reflects important environmental changes—Wyoming likely had a tropical climate, and a global cooling event eventually confined the species to lower latitudes.
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