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Earliest Reptile Footprints

The earliest evidence for the existence of reptiles has been found in Canada.

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The earliest evidence for the existence of reptiles has been found in Canada, according to a BBC News article. The 315 million-year-old fossilised tracks give an insight into a key milestone in the history of life, when animals left water to live on dry land. The footprints suggest reptiles evolved between one and three million years earlier than previously thought.

They were found by UK scientist Dr. Howard Falcon-Lang in fossil-rich sea cliffs at New Brunswick. The ancient trackway gives an insight into a time when vertebrates were evolving through amphibians to reptiles. The origin of reptiles, in particular the appearance of eggs protected by a shell, allowed four-legged animals to avoid having to go back into water to lay eggs, heralding life on dry land.

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Scientists believe the tracks preserved in sandstone were left by reptiles gathering around a watering hole on river plains that were dry for at least part of the year. The prints showed that the hands had five fingers and scales, evidence they were made by reptiles and not amphibians. The most likely contender was a lizard-like reptile named Hylonomus lyelli after the 19th Century geologist Sir Charles Lyell, according to the BBC News Article.

To read the full article, click here.