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New Species Of Extinct Reptile Found In Arizona’s Petrified Forest

Scutarx deltatylus
(Photo courtesy of Jeff Martz - National Park Service)
The species name, Scutarx deltatylus, basically means “knobby shield.”

Paleontologists have identified a new species of an extinct, crocodile-like creature in Petrified Forest National Park.

The 15-foot long reptile lived during the Triassic period, more than 200 million years ago. It belonged to a group of heavily armored plant-eaters.

Bill Parker, the lead paleontologist, said four fossils have been found in Petrified Forest National Park.

“We started researching them, and they had some characteristics that were different from other similar types of reptiles that had been found around the American Southwest, and that was enough for us to call it a new species," said Parker.

The distinguishing feature is a knob on the plates covering the animal’s back.  The species name, Scutarx deltatylus, basically means “knobby shield.”

Parker said these reptiles were numerous during the Triassic, but they died out in a mysterious mass extinction. Their disappearance made way for the age of the dinosaurs.

News Science
Melissa grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona and an M.FA. in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University.