Discovery pushes back the earliest known member of lizard and snake group by 75m years

The fossilised remains of a small lizard discovered in rock from the Italian Alps has shaken up the evolutionary family tree of reptiles and shed new light on the survivors of the most devastating mass extinction the world ever faced, researchers say.

Thought to have lived in the triassic period, about 240 million years ago, the creature, known as Megachirella wachtleri, has been unveiled as the oldest known member of a group of reptiles known as squamates – which includes lizards, snakes and peculiar legless creatures known as worm lizards.

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