Paleontologists discover a rare 290 million-year-old reptile fossil in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. They believe it might be a new species.

  • Paleontologists discovered a fossil that is 290 million years old. This fossil likely belonged a ‘early reptile relative’. It could also be a new species.
  • The fossil is approximately the same size as an Iguana. It contains the vertebrae of the creature, top of skull, some of shoulder girdle, and forelimb. 
  • The discovery was made at Utah’s Canyonlands National Park last month 
  • Once the fossil’s identity, age, and context are established, it will be sent to museums for display.

A fossil discovered by paleontologists in Utah, 290 million years old, has been identified as belonging to an ‘early reptile relative. This could be a new species.

The discovery was made at Utah’s Canyonlands National Park last month. It is a rare example of a Permian aged skeleton, according to Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park paleontologists who were part of the team that made the discovery.

The fossilized specimen was found at the bottom of a slickrock lava wash, which was being eroded by a previous rainstorm that had previously struck the canyon.

Adam Marsh, Petrified Forest National Park’s lead paleontologist, said that it is approximately the size of an iguana. He also noted that (the fossil) preserves at most the vertebrae and top of the skull. 

“We are currently preparing the fossil at Petrified forest and it will eventually be CT scanned in a year.”

Paleontologists discovered a 290 million-year-old fossil that likely belonged to an 'early reptile relative' and could be a new species

Paleontologists discovered a fossil that is 290 million years old. This fossil likely belonged a ‘early reptile relative’. It could also be a new species.

The stone that enveloped the fossil was taken out of the ground in two chunks, using a concrete saw, hammer and chisels

The fossil was surrounded by stone. It was removed from the ground using a concrete saw and hammer.

The fossil is roughly the size of an iguana and it has the creatures vertebrae, top of the skull, some of the shoulder girdle and forelimb

It is about the same size as an iguana. It has the vertebrae, top and sides of the skull, and some of the shouldergirdle and forelimb.

Petrified Forest National Park stated in a Facebook post that they had obtained a permit to collect and place the fossil within the Cedar Mesa Sandstone at California to estimate its geologic time and context. 

The discovery was made after a hike of ’13 miles round trip’, Petrified Forest National Park said in a Facebook post.

Marsh added that the stone that enclosed the fossil was removed from the ground in two pieces using a concrete saw and hammer.

The discovery was made after a '13 mile round trip hike' at Canyonlands National Park in Utah

After a hike of 13 miles round trip in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, the discovery was made.

The discovery was made last month at Utah's Canyonlands National Park by paleontologists from multiple organizations, including Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park

The discovery was made at Utah’s Canyonlands National Park last month by paleontologists representing multiple organizations, including Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park.

After the paleontologists have determined its identity, exact age, and context, the fossil will be sent to museums to be displayed.

‘This is an incredibly rare specimen from of the Pennsylvanian/Permian of Utah, where any kind of fossil is important, much less an articulated skeleton,’ Marsh explained.

“It really does go to show what kind fossil resources are hiding in our National Parks, waiting to be discovered and shared by the public.”

The Permian Period 252million year ago saw the Earth’s largest mass extermination event.

A study published in April revealed that it takes ten time longer to complete a task on land than it does in the water.

The event took approximately 100,000 years to kill most of life in the oceans.

It took nearly a million years to eradicate land-dwelling species.

This event, also known as the Great Dying, ultimately led to the extinction or extinction of 97 per cent of all living species.

According to the National Park Service, The Great Dying is widely regarded as one of the most catastrophic instances of mass extinction in Earth history. 

The Permian Period was 47 million years long and ranged from 298.9 millions years ago to approximately 251.9 million year ago. 


248 million year ago, the Permian Period ended and the Triassic Period began.

The Permian mass extermination has been called the “Great Dying” because it saw almost all life on Earth disappear. 

An alarming 96% of all life on Earth was destroyed.

All of the life on Earth today comes from those four percent of species.  

Scientists are not certain what caused the mass extermination, but it is thought to have occurred over a period of 20,000 to millions years. 

Many events can lead to the total collapse of multiple ecosystems.

It is believed that the extinction was caused by a period of intense volcanic activity. 

The ozone layer, which protects the planet against harmful UV radiation, may have been depleted by the eruptions. 

This high-energy radiation can cause severe damage to living organisms.