Small? Yes. Insignificant? No.
Together these two, Retinosaurus (Figs. 1, 2) and Tepexisaurus (Fig. 1), nest at the base the large clade that gave rise to Gila monsters, varanids, giant marine mosasaurs, skinks, amphisbaenids and Dibamus. Both are Early Cretaceous in discovery, but probably go back much further, deep into the Jurassic. Outgroups in the large reptile tree (LRT, 1959+ taxa; Fig. 3) include basal taxa in the origin of snakes + gekkos, including Tchingasaurus.
(Reynoso 2000; Early Cretaceous; IGM-370) is a small lizard found in a Mexican quarry. Here it nests alongside even smaller Retinosaurus (Fig. 2), shown full scale (Fig. 1).
(Cemansky et al. 2021; Early Cretaceous; GRS 29689) is a tiny lizard found in Burmese amber and considered a juvenile. Tiny taxa, like this, typically nest at the bases of new clades. So let’s not discount the possibility that this may have been a tiny adult.
Tiny size introduces innovation, but also
restricts extant taxa to damp, leaf-litter environments, as in several tiny adult pterosaur lepidosaurs the size of bee-hummingbirds.
Cemansky A et al. (9 co-authors) 2021. A new Early Cretaceous lizard in Myanmar amber with exceptionally preserved integument. Research Square https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-952564/v1
Cifelli RL and Nydam RL. 1995. Primitive, helodermatid-like platynotan from the early cretaceous of Utah. Herpetologica. 51(3):286-29.
Reynoso VH 2000. A new scincomorph lizard from the Early Cretaceous of Puebla, México Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society (2000), 130: 183–212.
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