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Drepanosaurs are a strange group of ancient reptiles known from Triassic rocks of the Northern Hemisphere and possessed an array of strange morphologies including enlarged second claws, bird-like beaks, and tails ending with a claw. They probably looked like a combination of an anteater and a chameleon, and Skybalonyx may have been even stranger.
The fossils of Skybalonyx are so small that they are difficult to find using normal paleontological field methods and were fortunately discovered by the PEFO crew using a new method of screen-washing fossiliferous rock, in which rocks are broken down with water through a series of metal screens. This study analyzed the hand claws of modern animals and found that Skybalonyx has claws most similar to burrowing animals such as moles, echidnas, and mole-rats, much different than other drepanosaurs that have claws suited for climbing and living in trees. This new species was described as a result of the parks ongoing summer paleontology internships by intern Xavier Jenkins and colleagues. Xavier is now a first-year Ph.D. student at Idaho State University, where he is studying the functional morphology of Permian and Triassic aged tetrapods.
Last updated: October 13, 2020