What goes around comes around, unfortunately, so it was probably climate change and cooler temperatures that altered the food supply and led to the eventual extinction of Barbaturex morrisoni.
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Barbatus, the first part of its name, is from the Latin words for "bearded," and "king." The "beard" refers to ridges that existed in a beard-like form along the underside of the reptile's lower jaw.
When Head first examined the fossils for the lizard, he noticed its bones were characteristic of a group of modern lizards that includes bearded dragons, chameleons and plant-eaters such as spiny-tailed lizards.
Head said, "I thought, ‘That's neat. Based on its teeth, it's a plant-eating lizard from a time period and a place from which we don't have a lot of information.' But when I started studying its modern relatives, I realized just how big this lizard was."
"It struck me that we had something here that was quite large, and quite unique."
Photo: An artist's conception of the giant lizard, Barbaturex morrisoni. Illustration by Angie Fox, Nebraska State Museum of Natural History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.