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Amphibian fossil find

This is a discussion on Amphibian fossil find within the General Discussion & News from Members forums, part of the General Topics category; News story (Nov. 9, 2004): University of Pittsburgh student finds new species of predatory amphibian PITTSBURGH (AP) - A geology ...

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Old 9th November 2004   #1 (permalink)
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News story (Nov. 9, 2004):

University of Pittsburgh student finds new species of predatory amphibian

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A geology student on a field trip stumbled across the fossil of an oversized, salamander-like creature with vicious crocodile-like teeth that lived about 300 million years ago, paleontologists said.

Scientists say the find is both a new species and a new genus, a broader category in the classification of plants and animals. Talks are under way about what to call the new species, starting with ``Striegeli'' -- after the university of Pittsburgh student who discovered it.

Initially, Adam Striegel picked up the softball-sized rock along a fresh road cut near Pittsburgh International Airport, and thinking it was of little interest, threw it aside. Walking back through the same area, he retrieved the stone and showed it to class lecturer Charles Jones.

Jones spotted the teeth first, then the outline of a skull. ``It was immediately clear that this was rare,'' Jones said Monday.

Paleontologists with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History also were stunned when the impeccably preserved fossil from a trematopid amphibian was unearthed this past spring in their own back yard. The discovery has set off a hunt for bigger finds that could help define a gray area in the Earth's history in what is now the northeastern United States.

The creature, believed to have been 3 to 4 feet- (0.9 to 1.2 meters-) long, is ``new to science but we know it belongs to fairly terrestrial-adapted amphibians living in the Pennsylvanian Period, about 300 million years ago,'' said Christopher Beard, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the museum.

Carnegie paleontologist Dave Berman knew exactly what the stone-encased skull fossil was because only two others of the same family are known to exist. He found one of them more than a decade ago in New Mexico.

The species has some characteristics of a crocodile, but is closer to a massive salamander _ one that could tear its prey to shreds.

``This is much more advanced, meaning that they first appeared even further back then we had thought, perhaps another five or 10 million years, but that's still a guess right now,'' Berman said.

The rock encasing the fossil has been carefully chipped away by Berman and his team, revealing a boxy skull slightly larger than that of a large cat. The cheeks are roughly at right angles to the top of the skull. Long rows of spiky teeth along with three sets of``tusks'' line the roof of the mouth.

In the coming months, Scientists will fan out across the area where the fossil was found as vegetation dies off, looking for the rest of the body, and possibly more.

``It was a lucky shot that kid found the fossil for sure, but at the same time the road construction in that area has revealed ancient layers of rock,'' Beard said. ``It is now an optimal time to go back out. Ideally we may be able to reconstruct the entire ecosystem, plant and animal life of 300 million years ago,'' he
said.

Source: Associated Press



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Old 9th November 2004   #2 (permalink)
jesper
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Cool!



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Old 9th November 2004   #3 (permalink)
kaysie
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tell me that wouldnt be the accomplishment of a lifetime! *gets shovel, heads to yard*



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Old 10th November 2004   #4 (permalink)
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oh wow!



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Old 10th November 2004   #5 (permalink)
alan
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Is there a caresheet Jenn? Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 10th November 2004   #6 (permalink)
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cool



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Old 10th November 2004   #7 (permalink)
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Nifty!!



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Old 11th November 2004   #8 (permalink)
ira
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This was found about 5 miles from where my parents live.

I voulenteer at the carnegie museam paleontology lab too, so i am probally going to be hearing alot about this when i am there this weekend.



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Old 11th November 2004   #9 (permalink)
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Ira, don't be so modest. We all know it was you who found it.



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Old 11th November 2004   #10 (permalink)
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pretty interesting, though not as interesting as the discovery of the florentine man.



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Old 11th November 2004   #11 (permalink)
jennifer
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Here is the caresheet: Do not attempt to keep this animal in captivity until it reaches the fossilized form!



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Old 11th November 2004   #12 (permalink)
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Why do they comment, "oversized"? 4 feet seems about average for early amphibians.



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Old 12th November 2004   #13 (permalink)
ira
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ben, realize this article is written for the public, most people dont know anything about what life was like in the late paleozoic.



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Old 12th November 2004   #14 (permalink)
alan
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Reminds me of the old joke about the 400 pound gorilla.

"What does he eat?"
"Anything he wants to!"



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Old 26th November 2004   #15 (permalink)
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Yep, there were all kinds of kickass prehistoric amphibians that were more or less replaced by crocodiles after the Triassic, though some even survived into the Cretaceous. The largest known amphibian was Mastodonsaurus of the Triassic (this thing had babarusa-style tusks--not very comfortable). There is a wonderful collection of fossil amphibians at the natural history mueseum in New York, though this article makes me want to re-visit Carnegie Institute soon!

Though they looked like giant salamanders, they weren't at all related. There were several lineages of amphibians that did not survive--the three orders we know of today are at least closely related.

Another interesting fact: the Cryptobranchids are the oldest living caudates. A member of the genus Andrias was found to date back to the Miocene (I think) and was originally thought to be a human killed in the biblical flood.

(Message edited by amphiuma on November 26, 2004)

(Message edited by amphiuma on November 26, 2004)



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Old 26th November 2004   #16 (permalink)
ira
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there are also a good number of very nice amphibian fossils at the Smithsonian. i wish i had taken pictures when i was there last, some of them were downright scary.



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Old 26th November 2004   #17 (permalink)
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A while back I posted some ancient amphibian pictures from the Royal Tyrrel museum in Drumheller Alberta:

http://www.caudata.org/forum/message...tml?1092342737

I have a few more that I could scan in if anyone is interested.
Also, in response to Ben's comment, from what I've seen 4 feet wasn't average outside of top level predators, it's just that most consider larger animals more interesting, and larger bones are more likely to be fossilised. Still, it's nice to see some discussion of these animals.



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