الأحد , يونيو 14 2020

'Monster salamanders' in mass grave

Reconstruction of metoposaurus algarvensis

“Kind of looks like a toilet seat”: A 3D reconstruction shows the animal’s big, flattened head

Scientists have discovered a new species of massive, toothy amphibian dating from 220 million years ago.

Hundreds of the creatures probably died when a lake dried up, leaving a huge jumble of bones which is now being excavated in southern Portugal.

Although related to modern salamanders, the two-metre beast probably lived more like a crocodile, snapping up fish and scrapping with rivals on the shore.

The find is reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Nobody’s pet

“It’s basically a salamander that’s the size of a car,” said Dr Steve Brusatte, a palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh who led the research.

“It’s one of those creatures from the distant past that looks like an alien – but it actually has quite a lot of relevance. These kind of big amphibians were the ancestral stock that modern frogs, salamanders and newts came from.”

metoposaurus illustration

The animals had very flattened heads and lots of sharp teeth

But unlike the mostly small and cute amphibians we know today, Metoposaurus algarvensis sat, rather heavily, at the top of the food chain.

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