Fossil of new plant-eating reptile found in AZ

Posted at 10:12 AM, Jan 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-30 15:47:02-05

Paleontologists at Petrified Forest have discovered a new species of extinct reptiles at the national park that are related to crocodiles and alligators.

Lead park paleontologist Bill Parker says four skeletons of Scutarx deltatylus (SKOO'-tarks dehl-tuh-TIE'-lus) have been found over a decade. The species is distinguished by a triangular knob on the bony plates that covered its back.

Several species of Scutarx once roamed the American Southwest about 220 million years ago in the Late Triassic Period before dinosaurs became the dominant land animals. Parker says similar bony plates also have been found in rocks around the same age in Texas.

The reptiles mostly ate plants, which Parker says was uncommon at the time.

The findings were published earlier this month in the journal, PeerJ.