Living closest relative of dinosaurs discovered in New Zealand

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The only living representative of the ancient order of reptiles Rhynchocephalia, which had a common ancestor with extinct dinosaurs about 250 million years ago, is the tuatara or tuatara.

Their exact relationship remains controversial, according to the journal Nature, as some scientists insist that the tuatara are associated with birds, others with crocodiles or turtles. However, new research has placed the reptile on an evolutionary chain in common with lizards and snakes.

According to scientists, the tautars split off and existed independently for about 250 million years. You can meet them in New Zealand. According to study co-author Mark Tollis of Northern Arizona University, the Tuatara’s genome changed DNA much less often than other reptiles, and their molecular clock ticked much slower.

Of particular interest to researchers is the question of how an animal can live for more than 100 years. In this regard, scientists are making attempts to uncover the genetic code of these ancient reptiles.

“The genome of the Tuatara is truly a time machine that allows us to understand what the genetic conditions were for animals that fought for world domination hundreds of millions of years ago,” said lead author Neil Gemmel of the University of Otago.

In June, Argentine paleontologists described a new species of dinosaur with forelimbs similar to wings, but designed for running. He was named the overraptor, his remains were found back in 2013 in the western part of the province of Rio Negro, but then scientists were unable to classify the dinosaur.

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