Homeosaurus a Living Fossil

Beasts of land and skies and the winner of the longevity award

The descendants  of Homeosaurus are alive and well today in New Zealand.

Homeosaurs looked like plump lizards from the outside. But their inner structure was distinctive. The skull was rigid so the snout couldn’t flex the way a lizard’s can. Plus, the teeth worked like self-sharpening scissors to slice through tough-skinned prey.

Tuatara, Nga Manu, Waikanae, New Zealand, 15 April 2006
Creative Commons License photo credit: PhillipC

Homeosaurs were the Ultimate Jurassic Survivors. They came from an old group that first evolved far back in the preceding Period, the Triassic. Today a homeosaur descendant, the Tuatara, still lives along the coast of New Zealand. No other family of Jurassic reptile has lasted so long with such little change.

How did they do it? What’s the secret behind homeosaur survival? We don’t know….yet. What do you think?

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About Bob

The Museum’s Curator of Paleontology, world-renowned Dr. Robert T. Bakker (or, as some call him, Bob) is the leader of the handful of iconoclastic paleontologists who rewrote the book on dinosaurs three decades ago. Along with other noted paleontologists, Bakker has changed the image of dinosaurs from slow-moving, slow-witted, cold-blooded creatures to — at least in some cases — warm-blooded giants well-equipped to dominate the Earth for 200 million years. Dr. Bakker can be found all over the globe, notably leading the Museum’s paleontology field program.

2 thoughts on “Homeosaurus a Living Fossil

  1. These little guys have surely found thier niche! It is interesting that thier dentition is so unique and and makes wonder if this was a common occurance amongst other early amniotes. The ability to hear with no external ear present is equally as cool and makes me wonder how common “tremorsense” was for his ancestors as well. Is there any evidence of his ancestors being large?

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