Meet Lalieudorhynchus, a distant relative of today’s mammals.
Sergey Krasovskiy/Stocktrek Images/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images
Before the dinosaurs, Earth was home to strange, reptile-looking creatures called synapsids that roamed the land on four legs.
And a newly discovered synapsid species unearthed in France may have lived like a mammal we see today.
Writing last month in the journal Palæovertebrata, researchers from Germany and France describe a chubby animal with a small head that fed on plants.
Called Lalieudorhynchus gandi, the animal is part of a family of creatures called caseids.
Lalieudorhynchus was about 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) long in total — a little longer than the average male American alligator.
But its remains were found alongside fossilized terrestrial plants, suggesting it probably foraged on land as well.
Lalieudorhynchus probably lived a semiaquatic lifestyle — much like hippos today.
The shared traits between them and Lalieudorhynchus show that the ability to live on both land and water goes back hundreds of millions of years.
The idea that caseids were semiaquatic is a somewhat new hypothesis.
“Our observations question the traditional hypothesis of fully terrestrial caseids and thereby support an ongoing debate.”
Werneburg et. al., study authors