A paleontological expedition has started in the Kostroma region to search for the remains of the rarest relict lizard Wetlugasaurus.
A creature, for whose remains scientists have been hunting, used to live in the territory of the European part of Russia 250 million years ago, at the beginning of the Triassic. A Wetlugasaurus angustifronts looked like a modern crocodile, it fact being a distant relative. According to paleontologists, this three-meter-long reptile had exclusively aquatic existence, because its weak legs did not allow it to get out on land and move around. The ancient "Kostroma crocodile" was a predator and it ate fish and other water organisms.
For the first time parts of this mysterious creature skeleton were discovered in sandy sediments on the Vetluga River banks (near the village of Zubovsky in th Kostroma province) in the early 1920s, in fact, that is what the lizard received its name. Professor Anatoly Ryabinin’s expedition then managed to assemble a more or less whole skeleton of the Wetlugasaurus. The second skeleton was discovered by famous science fiction writer Ivan Efremov in 1927, who was a paleontologist. All the subsequent findings are rather controversial: several bones that were attributed to Wetlugasaurus were found to be from other animals.
The expedition main goal is to find a whole skeleton of the relict lizard. If it happens, many paleontologist disputes will be resolved. However, this task is not the only one for the expedition.
"We continue the Paleogeography of the Kostroma Region project. Few people know that our region is very rich in paleontological assets; it is a Mecca for scientists. There are entire "deposits "of remains of relict animals here, many new species have already been discovered. Certainly, we would be happy to find a whole skeleton of Wetlugasaurus, especially since it is nowhere to be found. It will be an invaluable contribution to mankind's knowledge. The popularization of paleontology in general and the role of the Kostroma region in this science are also of great importance", explained Anatoly Antsiferov, the head of the scientific and fund department of the Nature Museum of the Kostroma region.
Written by: Ivan Rybin