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DC Press: "When Salamanders ruled Antarctica!'

This is a Press Information page entitled DC Press: "When Salamanders ruled Antarctica!' within the Press / News Items section of Caudata.org --- NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (Washington, DC) 11 September 08 15-Foot Antarctic "Salamander" Found; Was Toothy Terror (Ker Than) An ancient, giant, salamander-like amphibian with a particularly nasty ...

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Old 12th September 2008   #1 (permalink)
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Default DC Press: "When Salamanders ruled Antarctica!'

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (Washington, DC) 11 September 08 15-Foot Antarctic "Salamander" Found; Was Toothy Terror (Ker Than)
An ancient, giant, salamander-like amphibian with a particularly nasty bite has been identified from a 240-million-year-old fossil, scientists report.
Dubbed Kryostega collinsoni, the Antarctic creature was about 15 feet (54.7 meters) long and chomped down on prey using sharp teeth that protruded from the roof of its mouth.
Kryostega was the largest land animal alive in Antarctica during the middle Triassic period, when the continent was greener and more hospitable.
A partial skull belonging to the creature was found in modern-day Antarctica in 1986 but was only recently described by scientists.
In its appearance and lifestyle, Kryostega was very similar to modern crocodiles. Unlike crocodiles, however, it was an amphibian and not a reptile.
"You could think of Kryostega as a giant salamander," said study team member Christian Sidor, a paleontologist at the University of Washington.
Make that an unusually toothy giant salamander: Its teeth were enormous compared to with other amphibians, according to Sidor.
Kryostega belonged to an ancient lineage of amphibians called temnospondyls, which had tiny teeth attached to their palates.
However the newly named amphibian's fossil had unusual palate teeth: Some of them were larger than the normal teeth on the edge of its mouth.
Kryostega's side teeth were about 1.2 inches (3 centimeters) tall and about the width of an adult human's pinky finger.
Some of its palate teeth were nearly twice as thick and grew up to 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) in height.
"There might be some modern amphibians with small palatal teeth, but nothing as proportionately massive as [Kryostega]," Sidor said.
The new species will be detailed in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
During Kryostega's time, the continents were still congealed in one supercontinent called Pangaea.
Antarctica itself was located farther north and attached to South Africa, South America, and Australia.
The continent was also much warmer back then, crisscrossed by large rivers and primeval forests.
The first dinosaurs had not yet appeared, but their ancestors, the dinosauromorphs, roamed the Earth, along with other reptiles and the reptile-like ancestors of mammals.
Kryostega was a top predator in Antarctica, Sidor said.
It likely stayed close to water and dined on fish and other amphibians.
"However, like crocodiles, if land-living animals strayed too close to the river's edge, I expect that it would have been able to drag them in," Sidor said.
Sebastian Steyer is an ancient-amphibian expert at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France. He was not involved in the study.
The new fossil is a rare and important find, Steyer said, because it sheds light on life during a little-known era of Antarctica's history.
The only other Antarctic creatures known to live during the middle Triassic include one or two other large amphibians, and a burrowing reptile-like mammal.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...amphibian.html



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Old 12th September 2008   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: DC Press: "When Salamanders ruled Antarctica!'

If that salamander was really 54.7m, it was indeed a giant! That's almost 180 foot ! I don't know what happened with the metric conversion here, but 15 foot is about 4.5m, big, but not godzilla



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Old 12th September 2008   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: DC Press: "When Salamanders ruled Antarctica!'

15 feet = 4.57 m

Glad to see I'm not the only one in the world who can't type.

-Eva



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Old 15th September 2008   #4 (permalink)
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Default GBR Press: Giant killer newt had large teeth in odd places

NEW SCIENTIST (London, UK) 12 September 08 Giant killer newt had large teeth in odd places (Catherine Brahic)
Teeth come in all shapes and sizes. For a large crocodile-like creature that lived on the ancient supercontinent Pangaea, they came in all positions too.
Kryostega collinsoni was a temnospondyl Ė a class of primitive crocodile-like amphibians that were found worldwide between 360 and 200 million years ago. Not only did it have massive teeth around the rim of its jaw, it also had them embedded in the roof of its mouth.
William Hammer of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, found a chunk of the creature's jaw in Antarctica back in 1996.
However, it was not until a couple years ago that his colleague Christian Sidor of the University of Washington, Seattle, was able to study it in detail.
The size of the fossil's nostrils allowed Sidor to estimate that the animal's head must have been nearly a metre long and 60 centimetres wide, making it the largest animal in Antarctica during the Triassic. The whole body might have been as much as 4.5 metres long.
The fossil also has structures similar to those that allow fish and amphibians to sense changes in water pressure Ė suggesting that K. collinsoni was aquatic.
"Its teeth, compared to other amphibians, were just enormous. It leads us to believe this animal was a predator taking down large prey," says Sidor.
Other Temnospondyl fossils have teeth on their palates, but they tend to be much smaller.
Journal reference: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (vol 28, p 543)
http://environment.newscientist.com/...dd-places.html



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