June 5, 2013 12:40
Giant extinct lizard named after The Doors' Jim Morrison
The six-foot-long creatured roamed the Earth over 35 million years ago
The lizard has been named "Barbaturex morrisoni", a play on Morrison's 'Lizard King' nickname. When alive, the lizard was over six feet long, making it the largest plant-eating lizard ever to have existed. The lizard's massive length has been credited to higher temperatures in Asia at the time by palaeontologists who studied fossils of the giant reptile.
Lead researcher Jason Head from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln explained why Morrison's name was chosen for the lizard. "I was listening to The Doors quite a bit during the research," he said. "Some of their musical imagery includes reptiles and ancient places, and Jim Morrison was of course 'The Lizard King', so it all kind of came together."
Scientists were somewhat surprised to discover that the lizard, normally an animal that is preyed upon by other, larger creatures, was able to co-exist with its neighbours. "Reptiles and mammals co-exist most places on the Earth today. What is interesting about the Lizard King is that it was a large vegetarian co-existing and competing with other herbivorous mammals," Prof Russell Ciochon, from the University of Iowa, told BBC News. "The large size of the Lizard King certainly protected it from many predators. But there is no doubt that it was hunted by mammalian carnivores of the day."
Meanwhile, fans of The Doors were recently left in shock following the death of Ray Manzarek, keyboard player and founder member of the band.
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