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"Frog-amander" Fossil May Be Amphibian Missing Link
for National Geographic News
A new fossil find may be an evolutionary missing link in the amphibian family tree, scientists say.
The 290-million-year-old fossil was first collected in Texas by a paleontologist with the Smithsonian Institution in the mid-1990s. It was rediscovered in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., in 2004.
"It had an overall amphibian gestalt. … You know, kind of a froggy slamander-y sort of look," said Jason Anderson, a comparative biologist at the University of Calgary, Canada, who led a new analysis of the fossil.
"But also I recognized some of the archaic features too, and I thought that this would be a critical piece of evidence in trying to work out the origins of modern amphibians."
Dubbed Gerobatrachus hottoni, the animal looked somewhat like a salamander with a stubby tail and froglike ears.
"So it's kind of a frogamander, if you will," said Anderson.