An artist’s drawing of a Triassic lizard.

An artist’s impression of "Cryptovaranoides microlanius" when it was alive millions of years ago. (Image credit: Lavinia Gandolfi)

A new study shows that the origin of modern lizards and snakes is 35 million years old.

The remains of a small, razor-toothed reptile were found at the Natural History Museum in London. It had been held there since it was pulled from a quarry. The fossil was labeled "Clevosaurus and one other reptile"

The lizard was found to be around 202 million years old, and the remains included a partial skull and mandibles. The largest order of reptiles, consisting of lizards, snakes, and a group of legless lizards called "worm lizards", were discovered thanks to a computed tomography Scan of the Fossil.

According to the study's co-author and a professor of vertebrate paleontology, the fossil is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

The researchers had to use less intrusive techniques to study the lizard because it was small.

There are lizards with multiple tails.

"CT scanning reveals all the tiny details as well as hidden portions inside the rock, and without damage, when compared to traditional methods of cleaning using a needle." To make comparisons with modern and fossil forms, we needed to see the skull bones' detail.

According to the study, the researchers created a 3D reconstruction of the lizard and found that it was half the length of the original lizard.

A side view of the lizard's skull and sharp teeth.

A side view of the lizard's skull and razor-sharp teeth.  (Image credit: David Whiteside, Sophie Chambi-Trowell and Mike Benton/Natural History Museum UK)

The species name was inspired by the fact that the lizard's teeth would have delivered a menacing bite. According to the study, C. microlanius preyed on arthropods and small mammals on the limestone-rich islands that used to surround Bristol.

The age of C. microlanius shows that lizards and snakes were alive more than 30 million years ago. It helps complete the picture of squamate evolution.

A key question in modern biology is to understand the really successful groups, like squamates. How did they get so successful? We need to know when, where, and how that huge modern group came to be, because our fossil now re- calibrates the whole shebang and brings it back 35 million years.

The findings were published in a journal.