The tiny skull of a miniature dinosaur has been discovered in Germany, scientists from the Stuttgart Natural History Museum announced on Thursday.
The fossil was found in a quarry in the town of Vellberg in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, and belongs to a new type of dinosaur of around 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) in length. The creature is believed to have lived around 240 million years ago.
“It is a scientific sensation,” said paleontologist Rainer Schoch. The miniature skull shows a great deal of similarities to modern-day lizards and snakes.
Missing link to snakes and lizards
“The little animal is exciting, because we know so little about the ancestors of lizards and snakes,” Schoch explained. “We have discovered a new species.”
The “mini-dinosaur” has been given the scientific name Vellbergia bartholomaei, after the name of the town where it was discovered and the fossil collector Alfred Bartholomä.
The creature existed on earth around 20 million years before large dinosaurs evolved. The 12-millimeter long skull was examined under a tomograph to determine how the dinosaur ate and the size of its brain.