Dinosaurs ruled the earth for hundreds of millions of years, then disappeared so completely that to find even a partially complete skeleton of a single multi-ton animal is rare. Meanwhile, the Virginia Museum of Natural History has scores of fossils of Tanytrachelos ahynis, a 12 to 18-inch reptile that also lived millions of years ago, at the same time as the earliest dinosaurs.
Tanytrachelos is a long-necked reptile that was related to the perhaps better-known nine-foot (up to three meter) long Tanystropheus, also known for its very long neck. They belong to the Protosauria, a suborder of aquatic and terrestrial reptiles. As a contribution to efforts to create a family tree for all protosaurs, a Virginia Tech graduate student is taking advantage of the plentiful and nearby collection of Tanytrachelos fossils to study their preservation and population dynamics.
Michelle Casey of Elk River, Minn., a masters degree student in geosciences at Virginia Tech, will present her findings at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting in Denver Nov. 3-6 and at the Geological Society of America 116th annual meeting Nov. 7-10, also in Denver.
Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
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