TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - New fossils discovered at Petrified Forest National Park reveal a new species of a 220 million-year-old burrowing reptile known as a drepanosaur.
This new species, named Skybalonyx Skapter, was announced on Oct. 8 in a study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Drepanosaurs are a strange group of ancient reptiles known from Triassic rocks of the Northern Hemisphere and possessed an array of strange morphologies including enlarged second claws, bird-like beaks and tails ending with a claw. They probably looked like a combination of an anteater and a chameleon, and the Skybalonyx may have been even stranger.
The fossils of Skybalonyx are so small that they are difficult to find using normal paleontological field methods and were fortunately discovered by the PEFO crew using a new method of screen-washing fossiliferous rock, in which rocks are broken down with water through a series of metal screens.
This study analyzed the hand claws of modern animals and found that Skybalonyx has claws most similar to burrowing animals such as moles, echidnas and mole rats- much different than other drepanosaurs that have claws for climbing and living in trees.