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This ancient reptile was discovered in Arizona's 'Triassic Park'. Now it has a new name

The Triassic reptile species has been named after Brad and Denise Traver, who have supported the paleontology program at Petrified Forest National Park.

PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.

A new dinosaur-like reptile species discovered in Arizona several years ago has been recently named after the former superintendent of Petrified Forest National Park.  

Fossils of the "Puercosuchus traverorum" species were first discovered by park paleontologists in 2014 in the Blue Mesa area, which is located about 30 miles east of Holbrook. 

The fossil elements are estimated to be up to 220 million years old and their size and shape indicate the species would have likely resembled Komodo dragons.

The Triassic reptile species belongs to a group of animals that were previously believed to have only been found in Madagascar and Morocco, according to the National Park Service.

The species' name is a reference to the Puerco River, which is located near where the fossils were found, as well as to Brad and Denise Traver, who have provided much support to the paleontology program at the park. 

Brad Traver had served as superintendent of Petrified Forest park and previously worked at several other national parks throughout Arizona.

Though the traverorum fossils were found alongside those of early dinosaurs, the species would not be categorized as a dinosaur.

According to an article published in the Journal of Paleontology, the species is considered a member of a late-surviving group of allokotosaurs, reptiles which lived in North America, Europe and Africa during the Middle to Late Triassic periods.

Credit: National Park Service
Fossils of the reptile species being excavated in 2014.

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