#Discovery; #uniqueFossil; #18th-centuryCoalMine; #P.E.I.; #Carbonodracolundi
Prince Edward Island, Dec 16 (Canadian-Media): The discovery of a unique fossil, which looked like a black piece of coal, by a P.E.I. boy, in the dump of an 18th-century coal mine, considered the oldest known species of an ancient group called the "parareptiles," shed new light about life before the rise of dinosaurs, media reports said.
Carbonodraco lundi. Image credit: www.picuki.com
The new species, Carbonodraco lundi, 25 centimetres long from nose to tail, lizard-like predator with a sharp pair of fangs that ran about in ancient swamps, snatching and stabbing insects and other prey lived more than 306 million years ago during the Carboniferous Period in what is now Linton, Ohio, according to a new study by researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa published recently in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
Unlike most fossils, which are typically embedded in rocks like shale, limestone or sandstone, this one was "literally a black piece of coal," said Arjan Mann, a PhD candidate at Carleton University and lead author of the report. He said that type of fossil is "very unique."
The coal deposits at the mine, which opened in the 1800s, are the remains of a steamy, mangrove-like swamp that covered the region around 310 million to 306 million years ago, Mann said.
The swamp fed by a river running through a forest of giant club mosses, was home to giant insects, crabs and shrimp, fish, salamander-like amphibians, mammal-like reptiles called synapsids, and many creatures having blends of fish and amphibians or amphibians and reptiles.
Many of them were fossilized into an impure coal called cannel coal, which miners had to dig through and discard in order to reach the commercially valuable coal underneath.
During one time while Lund was regularly collecting in the dump, which were most of the time they were empty, he found one of the first blocks Lund split open in 1972 which contained a skull and the front part of an animal's body.
While cataloging reptiles found at a coal mine at Mazon Creek, Ill., Mann came upon the museum specimen, one of them identified as Cephalerpeton ventriarmatum — the same identification originally given to the fossil from Linton. Upon comparison it was found that they were not related at all.
Hillary Maddin, Mann's supervisor and a Carleton University paleontology professor, said
"I think you've got a pretty new, exciting picture of what was happening over 300 million years ago," said Maddin, a co-author of the study.
The new identification makes Carbonodraco the oldest known parareptile. It lived about 300 million years ago, making Carbonodraco at least six million years older.