Homoeosaurus pulchellus (Zittel)

Homoeosaurus is not a lizard but belongs to the once very abundant Rhynchocephalia (ībeak-headsī). The only member of this order of reptiles still living today is the strictly protected tuatara ( Sphenodon punctatus ) on a few islands off the coast of New Zealand.

Since the form of the skeleton scacely differs at all from that of Homoeosaurus, having hardly changed in more than 150 million years, Sphenodon too is regarded as a "living fossil". Over the temporal opening in the side of the skull is a second bony arcade, lost in lizards and snakes.

Homoeosaurus was a land-dweller of Upper Jurassic times. This specimen was presumably washed already dead into the lagoon which, sheltered from the open sea to the south by a belt of reefs, extended in front of the south coast of the former Central German mainland. It was then quickly embedded in soft calcareous mud, and this prevented the cadaver from disintergrating. Further layers of mud increased the pressure and the degree of compaction of the sediments, whitch were finally hardened into rock by chemical and physical processes. When, at the change-over from Jurassic to Cretaceous time, the sea whitdrew from this region, it left behind thickness of rocks of up to 90 metres. The intensive quarrying of this Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone exposed also the petrified and plants entombed within; the latter are today distributed in many collections and museums throughout the world.

Original: Bavarian Palaeontological Collection, Munich, Germany

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