A recent discovery showed before dinosaurs existed, the Earth was ruled by the ugliest fossil reptiles. A group of scientists found the animals’ remains, describing them as the ugliest fossil reptiles. Their scientific name is pareiasaurs.
It was found the prehistoric creatures measured about 9 feet long, with barrel-shaped bodies, stocky arms and legs and small heads. Their movements were slow and ungainly. Despite this, researchers claimed these ugly specimens were capable of traveling across the world. According to experts, pareiasaurs lived in South Africa, Europe, China and South America. However, scientists cannot say whether there were distinct groups on each continent.
The research found many similarities between the fossils discovered in China and those from Russia and South Africa. Such information is a key to understanding how these creatures migrated and colonized different areas in the world. In addition, the prehistoric creatures are believed to have lived in damp, lowland regions.
Experts consider these herbivorous reptiles’ habitat was similar to the modern mammals. Tropical, wet regions with lots of vegetation would have made for an ideal life for pareiasaurs. They are likely to have fed on huge amounts of low-nutrition vegetation. Nonetheless, scientists haven’t found yet fossilized faeces or stomach contents to support this idea.
What’s more, Russian remains indicated pareiasaurs wallowed in soft mud to cool off and remove parasites. After studying the Chinese specimens, researchers pointed out three individual pareiasaur species. According to them, their body size and teeth shape were different. Moreover, the experts described the species as having strange bumps all over their body.
Their skin was covered in armored plates. Researchers believe such physical features protected the animals from falling prey to hungry predators. At the moment, it is believed pareiasaurs were the first true massive herbivores on Earth. However, their dominance didn’t last long, only ten million years.
The prehistoric specimens disappeared in the end-Permian mass extinction, about 252 million years ago. In Russia, massive volcano eruptions caused acid rain and global warming. This led to the death of almost 90 percent of pareiasaur species. Ocean and atmosphere’s temperatures increased and the carbon dioxide and methane release caused the death of many living things.
According to experts, these creatures could have lived much longer if the mass extinction hadn’t happened. The extinction played a fundamental part in the evolution of life on Earth. In its aftermath, the ancestors of modern animals appeared.
The first mammals emerged almost 200 million years ago, and dinosaurs ultimately gave rise to birds. The discovery that the Earth was ruled by the ugliest fossil reptiles gave scientists more clues about prehistoric life. Understanding their evolution and ecosystem is a key in finding what caused so many terrestrial and marine animals to disappear.
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