Andrea Crisante | Dreamstime.com

Scientists Discover Fossils of Ancient Herbivore The Size Of An Elephant

The Creature Is Known As Lisowicia Bojani, And Comes From The Same Evolutionary Branch As Mammals

November 23, 2018

It seems there has been a new creature discovered that may have roamed the Earth during the Triassic period. According to a new study published Thursday, Polish researchers believe they have discovered a new giant, plant eating species with a beak-like mouth and reptilian features. Not believed to be a dinosaur, this study would end the notion that from that era, the only plant eating creatures of that size were dinosaurs.

According to the study by journal Science, Scientists believe this creature lived during the late Triassic period, over 200 million years ago. The creature known as Lisowicia bojani, after the Southern Poland village in which it was discovered, is roughly the size of an elephant. One of the most astonishing findings from this study is that the creature belongs to the same evolutionary branch as mammals, as opposed to dinosaurs.

These large, plant-eating creatures are known as dicynodonts. Similar fossils have been discovered before, but those came from an earlier period, before natural disaster wiped out most of the Earth’s species. “We used to think that after the end-Permian extinction, mammals and their relatives retreated to the shadows while dinosaurs rose up and grew to huge sizes,” said Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki, a paleontologist who co-authored the study.

This discover of a dicynodont living in the era as a sauropod, a branch of the dinosaur family, suggests that environmental features of the Triassic period may factor into the evolution of gigantism. This discover has been called “startling” by many, including Christian Kammerer, a dicynodont specialist from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science.

“Large dicynodonts have been known before in both the Permian and Triassic, but never at this scale,” said Kammerer. While he was impressed with the study, he did claim there is still no evidence of the two coexisting in the same habitat. While he did question some aspects of the study, overall he came away impressed with the findings. This goes to show there is still much to learn about early mammals.

Via CBS News