A new species of reptilian, which lived in the late Triassic period, about 200 million years ago, has been recognized as being classified by a student of the University of Bristol. The student, Erin Patrick, has analyzed two fossil fragments preserved, among other things, for several decades, in the shelves of the Museum of Natural History in London.
Helped by researchers Mike Benton and David Whiteside of the School of Earth Sciences in Bristol, she classified the Aenigmaspina pantyffynnonensis: the first term refers to a particular characteristic of the vertebrae, the second refers to the quarry of Pant-y-ffynnon in South Wales, where the findings were found.
The Aenigmaspina pantyffynnonensis was an armored creature, an archosaur of the group of crurotarsi very similar to the Erpetosuchus, another late triassic reptile whose remains were found in the past in Scotland and the eastern United States, as specified by Professor Benton. The pantyffynnonensis lived on a small limestone island that was part of a subtropical archipelago.
The fossil remains are represented by two blocks of rock showing various forms of small bones including vertebrae, ribs, a scapula and the shape of what researchers have classified as a kind of armor. The researchers analyzed all the details through magnification and recreated the body of the animal in a three-dimensional way.
The Aenigmaspina pantyffynnonensis is the fourth of the new species identified thanks to the remains found in the quarry of Pant-yffynnon. Among those already identified, there are also the crocodileomorph Terrestrisuchus and the dinosaur sauropodomorph Pantydraco.