Fossil found in northeast Arizona is from new mammal species
PHOENIX — A team of paleontologists revealed on Wednesday that a fossil they discovered inside the Petrified Forest National Park in northeast Arizona is from a new mammal species.
The findings showed that the fossil is part of the cynodont family of mammal relatives, according to a press release.
The new species, which was discovered during the summer of 2019 in the upper Triassic Chinle formation in the park, will be called Kataigidodon venetus.
The name comes from mixing the Greek words for thunderstorm and tooth with the Latin word for blue.
Additionally, the name comes from the nickname of the area where the fossil was discovered, which is known as Thunderstorm Ridge, and for the blue color of the rocks in the area.
Researchers believe it was similar in size to a hamster and had comparable teeth to other living mammal species.
The Cynodontia family is closely related to mammals, with similar fossils found on the east coast of North America, as well as in southern Africa and South America.
The formation that the mammal relative was found in is roughly 220 million years old, according to the release, when Arizona was located close to the equator and near the center of the supercontinent Pangea.
The Kataigidodon venetus lived in a tropical forest ecosystem, with the area’s humid climate during the timeframe spurring on evolution among mammals and their relatives.