Bumpy Cow-sized Reptile Roamed Pangea Over 200 Million Years Ago

Posted on June 24, 2013

Bunostegos akokanensis

A large bumpy cow-sized plant-eating reptile roamed the ancient central desert of Pangea over 200 million years ago. Scientists have discovered fossils of a new genus of pareiasaurs that lived in what is now northern Niger. The newly discovered fossils of Bunostegos akokanensis belong to the genus Bunostegos, which means "knobby [skull] roof."

Lead author Linda Tsuji said in a statement, "Imagine a cow-sized, plant-eating reptile with a knobby skull and bony armor down its back."

Most pareiasaurs had bony knobs on their skulls, but Bunostegos sported the largest, most bulbous ones ever discovered. The scientists say the knobs were probably skin-covered horns like those found on the heads of giraffes.

Christian Sidor, another author of the paper, says, "Our work supports the theory that central Pangea was climatically isolated, allowing a unique relict fauna to persist into the Late Permian."

The research paper was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Illustration by Marc Boulay


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