FORDRET FOREST NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) – Scientists have discovered fossils of a small burrowing reptile among a vast broad fossilized tree in eastern Arizona.
The new species has been named Skybalonyx creator, part of a group known as drepanosaurs from the Triassic period about 220 million years ago.
Petrified Forest National Park outside Holbrook is considered one of the leading places to study plants and animals from that period, sometimes known as the dawning age of dinosaurs.
The researchers say the ancient reptiles are strange because of morphologies that include enlarged duck claws, bird-like beaks and tails with claws. They probably looked like a cross between an anteater and a chameleon.
They say the new species may be even more alien because it has claws that allow it to dig itself instead of climbing into and living in trees, more like a mole or mole.
The fossils were discovered by a team of researchers from the park, Virginia Tech, the University of Washington, Arizona State University, Idaho State University and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. They published their findings earlier this month in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
They found the fossils in the summer of 201