Cabarzia

A colored digital ink illustration of Cabarzia, an extinct animal that closely resembled a lizard. It has a monitor-lizard-like head, a short neck, short arms, a slender body, long legs, and a long tapering tail. It's depicted sprinting on its hind legs, and has a mottled brown, white, and yellow color scheme.

Cabarzia trostheidei here lived during the early Permian in what is now Germany, about 295 million years ago.

Despite its very lizard-like appearance it was actually part of the varanopid lineage, a group of scaly amniotes traditionally classified as early synapsids (distant relatives of modern mammals), but which more recently have been proposed to instead be sauropsid reptiles closer related to early diapsids.

It was around 50cm long (1’8″), and its short arms, long legs, slender body, and long tail suggest it was capable of shifting into a bipedal posture when running at high speeds, similarly to some modern lizards – probably mainly to escape from larger predators, but possibly also used to pursue fast-moving prey like flying insects.

And whether varanopids were actually synapsids or sauropsids, this makes Cabarzia the earliest known example of an animal running on two legs.

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