The new species is named Machaeroprosopus lottorum after the Lott family who own the ranch on which the animal was found.
According to a news release from Texas Tech University, researchers have uncovered a new species of phytosaur in West Texas.
According to Bill Mueller, assistant curator of Paleontology at the Museum of Texas Tech University, the new species is named Machaeroprosopus lottorum after the Lott family who own the ranch on which the animal was found.
“We found them in an area we’d been excavating in,” Mueller revealed. “I think we’ve gotten four skulls out of that area already. Doug Cunningham [a field research assistant at the museum] found this specimen, and then we dug it up. When he found it, just the very back end of the skull was sticking out of the ground. The rest was buried. We excavated it and brought it into the museum to finish preparation.”
“It was really well preserved with the teeth and everything,” Cunningham said, reflecting on the day that he uncovered the strange female skull. “Finding one with teeth is pretty rare. It was so odd, but when they come out of the ground, you have a long way to go to actually see what you have because they’re still covered in matrix. We were all kind of in awe of it. It had this long, skinny snout. It was quite a bit different. It took me years to get it prepped and ready. At the time, I was working full-time and I did that on my days off.”
The researchers discovered that they had found a new species by comparing the supratemporal fenestra, the snout and the shape of the bones at the back of the head to other phytosaurs.
During the Triassic period, West Texas was swampy, according to Mueller. Phytosaurs hid beneath the water and waited for prey.
The study’s findings are described in greater detail in the journal Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.