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Re: oldest purported reptile fossil announced in _Nature_



To expand a bit on what Mickey said, it's the oldest five-toed animal in
the fossil record, found in England. It's in the April 8 Nature. The
abstract says in part:

"Here we report the discovery of a small, highly ossified, post-
cranial skeleton of a terrestrially adapted, amniote-like tetrapod
from the [early Carboniferous of Scotland]; this specimen shows the
earliest known
pentadactyl manus. The skeleton is associated with a gracile
humerus that has a constricted shaft and exhibits torsion between
proximal and distal articulations. These features are associated
with the maintenance of postural support and are strong evidence
of locomotion on land. The specimen pushes back the known
occurrence of terrestrial vertebrates closer to the origin of tetra-
pods. Phylogenetic analysis places this new animal close to
undisputed amniotes occurring in the Westphalian, indicating
that, by [roughly 338 Million years ago], amniotes already had a long, but
previously unrecorded, history. The origin of amniotes seems to
have occurred early in the Carboniferous and was part of a rapid
diversification of tetrapods at this time." -- Jeff Hecht, jhecht@world.std.com


Jeff Hecht     Boston Correspondent    New Scientist magazine
525 Auburn St.,          Auburndale, MA 02466             USA
tel 617-965-3834 fax 617-332-4760 e-mail jhecht@world.std.com
URL: http://www.sff.net/people/Jeff.Hecht/
see New Scientist on the Web: http://www.newscientist.com/