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Home SCIENCE Mummified, splay-legged Triassic 'shovel lizards' appear run over and likely died in...

Mummified, splay-legged Triassic ‘shovel lizards’ appear run over and likely died in a drought

Some 251 million years ago, groups of pig-sized herbivores with tusks and beaks huddled together, died, shrank, and then fossilized to look like roadkill, with impressions of their stony skin still present in the rocks around them. .

These strange fossil layers suggest that recurring drought was a big problem for the animals, which were members of the genus lystrosaur, meaning “shovel lizard” in ancient Greek. Lystrosaurs were rare survivors of the Permian-Triassic mass extinctiona period of runaway climate change 252 million years ago that killed an estimated 70% of land vertebrates and 96% of marine animals.

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