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New Reptile Species Identified in the United Kingdom

June 4, 2015



A new species of reptile that lived more than 205 million years ago was recently described by an undergraduate student with the University of Bristol in England. The reptile, Clevosaurus sectumsemper is named after a spell cast in the series of Harry Potter books. 


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Clevosaurus sectumsemper

Katharine Whiteside

Clevosaurus sectumsemper had teeth and a jaw that enabled it to attack prey items much larger than it. .

Catherine Klein, the researcher who described the fossils, says the lizard is a new species of Clevosaurus “Gloucester lizard” that lived in the hills of what is now the South West of the United Kingdom, an area that was previously home to small dinosaurs and relatives of the tuatara. 

"The new species, Clevosaurus sectumsemper, probably lived near the edge of one of the ancient archipelago's islands, in a relatively hostile environment,” Klein said in a statement released by the University of Bristol.

"This would explain why nearly all the bones come from one species, and why there is a relatively high occurrence of healed fractures such as one we found in a rib.  Possibly the animals were fighting each other due to a limited food source or perhaps they preyed on each other and bones were broken, but some individuals survived and their broken bones healed."

According to Professor Mike Benton, a supervisor to Klein, the jaw of the lizard has enough differentiation to determine it as a new species. The paper also said that Clevosaurus sectumsemper had specially adapted teeth that enabled it to attack much larger prey than what you would expect from a small predator, which they say is the smallest of the clevosaurs. 


John B. Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 

 

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