Scientists name newly discovered ancient amphibian species after Kermit the Frog | Palaeontology

After achieving worldwide fame through numerous hit films and TV shows, leading to a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Kermit the Frog has another accolade: a 270m-year-old fossil named after him.

Scientists have discovered a species of an ancient amphibian ancestor, which they have named Kermitops gratus because of its resemblance to the bright green star of The Muppet Show.

The prehistoric creatures are thought to be among the first true amphibians and represent a key evolutionary step in the transition of life from water to land.

The fossil skull of Kermitops (left) alongside a modern frog skull. Photograph: Brittany M Hance/PA

The specimen was discovered four decades ago in an area of Texas, US, known as the Red Beds, but remained unexamined in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s fossil collection.

Calvin So, a doctoral student at George Washington University in Washington DC, said: “Using the name Kermit has significant implications for how we can bridge the science that is done by palaeontologists in museums to the general public.

“Because this animal is a distant relative of today’s amphibians, and Kermit is a modern-day amphibian icon, it was the perfect name for it.”

The fossil was eventually picked up in 2021 by Dr Arjan Mann, a palaeontologist at the museum, who described it as a “really well preserved, mostly prepared skull”.

Scientists analysed the remains of the inch-long fossilised skull featuring large and oval-shaped eye sockets.

Mann and his protege, So, identified the fossil as a temnospondyl, a diverse group of ancient amphibian relatives that lived between 360m and 200m years ago.

Analysis of the skull revealed what the researchers described as a “mishmash of traits”, different from features seen in the skulls of older tetrapods, the four ancestors of amphibians and other living vertebrates.

They said the region of the skull behind the Kermitops’s eyes was much shorter than its elongated, curved snout.

They said these skull proportions – which probably resembled a stout salamander – would have helped Kermitops catch tiny grub-like insects.

The early fossil record of amphibians and their ancestors is sparse, making it difficult to understand how frogs, salamanders and their relatives originated.

While a fossil resembling Kermit’s former wife, Miss Piggy, has yet to be discovered, the researchers said Kermitops offered clues to bridge this “huge fossil gap”.

Mann said: “This is an active area of research that a lot more palaeontologists need to dive back into. Palaeontology is always more than just dinosaurs, and there are lots of cool evolutionary stories and mysteries still waiting to be answered.”

Source link

Denial of responsibility! NewsConcerns is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a Comment