Stunning discovery of 250-million-year-old giant lizard — how it got its terrifying name

Stunning discovery of 250-million-year-old giant lizard — how it got its terrifying name

The creature's name, Teyujagua paradoxa, as a fascinating meaning.

Scientists were thrilled to stumble upon an early ancestor to modern-day birds and crocodiles in Brazil, and have named the beast Teyujagua paradoxa — an interesting name with a fascinating history.

The discovery of the lizard, which grew up to five feet long, was important because it lived 250 million years ago, right after a massive eruption in eastern Russia wiped out 90 percent of life on Earth, as we reported recently. This species would have been one of the first reptile ancestors, and would have led about to dinosaurs and eventually crocodiles and birds. The finding fills a gap in the evolutionary history and could help scientists better understand how these species evolved.

The animal’s new name, Teyujagua paradoxa, is an interesting one. Teju Jagua is from ancient Guarani mythology. He was the first son of Tau and Kerana and one of seven legendary monsters.

The name literally means “lizard dog,” and the beast is called that because of a curse cast by Arasy against Tau for kidnapping Keran, resulting in their offspring being deformed. As a result, Teju Jagua is a huge lizard with seven heads of a dog. In some myths, he has only one giant dog head, but in all of them he can’t move because of his deformity. Despite his deformity that terrified others, he was harmless, eating fruits and honey.

Teyujagua paradoxa doesn’t exactly have the head of a dog, nor is it a large creature comparatively speaking. But it was a good way to honor the local culture with this huge find that will mean a lot to science.

Dr. Felipe Pinheiro, from Universidade Federal do Pampa, São Gabriel, Rio Grande do Sul said in a statement: “The discovery of Teyujagua was really exciting. Ever since we saw that beautiful skull for the first time in the field, still mostly covered by rock, we knew we had something extraordinary in our hands. Back in the lab, after slowly exposing the bones, the fossil exceeded our expectations. It had a combination of features never seen before, indicating the unique position of Teyujagua in the evolutionary tree of an important group of vertebrates.”



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