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Picture of the Day

Paleontologists put the bite on an ancient reptile from New England

Scientists have identified a new species of reptile from prehistoric Connecticut and, boy, does it have a mouth on it. Named Colobops noviportensis, the creature lived 200 million years ago, and had exceptionally large jaw muscles -- setting it apart from other reptiles at the time. Even compared to the wide diversity of reptile species today, Colobops noviportensis had quite the bite. The specimen is a quarter-sized skull discovered in Meriden, Connecticut, during roadwork in 1965. It has been part of the collections of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History for decades. The specimen's new species name derives from Novus Portus, a Latinized version of New Haven -- a reference to the New Haven Arkose geological formation. The research team took a new look at the specimen. The researchers did a 3-D reconstruction of the skull and discovered that it showed specialization in the jaw that was unprecedented in any other known small tetrapod, juvenile or adult. The researchers said the discovery means modern vertebrates originated in a world that was already populated by small and large-bodied physical extremes, in terms of how animals physically adapted to their environment.

Visit Website | Image credit: Michael Hanson/Yale University