On the News | MSU paleontologist leads expedition that unearths new species of ancient iguana-like lizard @ MSU

On the News@ MSU


MSU paleontologist leads expedition that unearths new species of ancient iguana-like lizard


Shown is an illustrated life reconstruction of Magnuviator ovimonsensis at Montana’s Egg Mountain as it may have appeared 75 million years ago. One Magnuviator eats a wasp. On the ground is a tooth from the bird-like dinosaur Troodon. The arid-adapted plant is based on fossil pollen found near Egg Mountain. Artist rendering by Misaki Ouchida. (@source)

“A Montana State University paleontologist is part of a team that discovered a new iguana-like lizard that roamed the earth 75 million years ago, alongside dinosaurs such as tyrannosaurs and bird-like troodons.

David Varricchio, associate professor of paleontology in MSU’s Department of Earth Sciences in the College of Letters and Science, led the expedition on Montana’s Egg Mountain that unearthed two nearly complete fossils of a Late Cretaceous iguanomorph found in a nesting site.

Named Magnuviator ovimonsensis, which means “mighty traveler from Egg Mountain,” the specimens are the oldest, most complete iguanian fossils discovered in the Americas.

Former MSU paleontologist Jack Horner christened Egg Mountain, which is located in the Two Medicine Formation near Choteau, after he and his crew discovered fossil eggs and clutches there beginning in 1979. The fossils represented the first dinosaur eggs from North America.

In 2010, Varricchio received funding from the National Science Foundation that made it possible for him to return to Egg Mountain and excavate.

“We began excavating there in 2010, continuing through 2016,” Varricchio said. “This was the first concentrated effort at Egg Mountain in 25 years. The lizard specimens were discovered during these new excavation efforts.”

Some lizard material had been found at the site before, Varricchio said, but nothing as remarkable as the nearly complete and fully articulated skeletons. ” (…) READ MORE

Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)