A tiny lizard (Lepidosauria, Squamata) from the Lower Cretaceous of Spain


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Abstract:  The smallest living amniotes are all lizards, but the fossil history of this size trait in Squamata is difficult to follow because small skeletons have low preservation potential and are often hard to detect in the field. A new squamate taxon, Jucaraseps grandipes gen. et sp. nov., is here described on the basis of an articulated skeleton from the Early Cretaceous Spanish lagerstätten of Las Hoyas. It differs from other known Mesozoic lizards in combining very small body size with a short rostrum, low maxillary tooth count, a relatively slender and elongated body, and short limbs with large hind feet. Phylogenetic analysis using TNT places it on the stem of a clade encompassing scincomorphs, gekkotans, snakes, amphisbaenians and anguimorphs. Comparison with modern lizards suggests it was probably a cryptic surface or subsurface ground dweller but not a burrower.