A 150-million-year-old reptile looked a lot like its living relative.
Meet the tuatara.
These reptiles, native to New Zealand, weigh only three pounds as adults and can live to over a hundred years old.
And paleontologists just discovered a new member of the reptile’s family tree.
O. gregori would have been about six inches long — small enough to curl up in the palm of a human hand.
The shape of O. gregori’s head and teeth reveal that it probably ate insects, including ones with tougher shells like beetles.
O. gregori’s body shape, complete with four legs and a tail, makes it seem a whole lot like a miniature version of its modern-day relative.
Researchers are still trying to understand why they aren’t plentiful like lizards.
The fossil record shows that rhynchocephalians started to disappear hundreds of millions of years ago.
Afterward, lizards became a more dominant group and diversified into the many species we now see all over Earth.
“These animals may have disappeared partly because of competition from lizards but perhaps also due to global shifts in climate and changing habitats.”
Matthew Carrano, study author, in a press release
For now, the story of the rhynchocephalians’ disappearance remains clouded in mystery.