Researchers have identified a new species of reptile that walked the Earth 205 million years ago.
The team named the ancient reptile Clevosaurus sectumsemper, which was inspired by the "Harry Potter" books, the University of Bristol reported. The fossils, which were uncovered in a quarry in Gloucestershire, were identified by undergraduate student Catherine Klein.
"The new species, Clevosaurus sectumsemper, probably lived near the edge of one of the ancient archipelago's islands, in a relatively hostile environment. This would explain why nearly all the bones come from one species, and why there is a relatively high occurrence of healed fractures such as one we found in a rib. Possibly the animals were fighting each other due to a limited food source or perhaps they preyed on each other and bones were broken, but some individuals survived and their broken bones healed," Klein said.
The creature had self-sharpening teeth that cut past each other precisely with every bite. This dentition would have allowed the lizard to munch on much larger food than what would have been expected for such a small animal.
"The species name sectumsemper means 'always cut', and was chosen to reflect this," Klein said. "It is also a nod to the Harry Potter character Severus Snape, who made a spell called sectumsempra (perhaps meaning sever forever)."
The aninmal was a member of the "Gloucester lizard," Clevosaurus, which was first named in 1939.
"It is remarkable from an ancient geography point of view because we have evidence of a gradual decline in species richness from the northern Tytherington fissures to the almost complete dominance of Clevosaurus sectumsemper in the fauna of Woodleaze in the south as the edge of the ancient island is reached. Perhaps we are documenting the details of geographic distribution at the time," said one of Klein's supervisors David Whiteside.
The findings were published in a recent edition of the Proceedings of the Geologists' Association.