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The oldest frog discovered in North America preserved in rocks

The remains of some of the oldest frogs of all time have been recovered by sifting through fragments of rock from Arizona.

The creatures, who shared the prehistoric landscape with the dinosaurs, were identified on the basis of tiny fragments of hip bones smaller than a fingernail.

Belonging to a still unknown species that lived about 216 million years ago, it is believed to be the oldest frogs ever identified in North America.

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The tiny remains were found next to huge crocodile-like phytosaurs, as well as young dinosaur species.

Scientists usually find these much larger animals preserved in the Chinle Formation, a triassic rock structure that stretches from Nevada to New Mexico.

However, the team said their latest discovery was evidence of the wealth of tiny creatures swaying under the feet of dinosaurs at this time in the history of the planet.

"The chinle frog could fit on the tip of your finger," said Dr. Michelle Stocker, paleontologist, stating that she now focused on finding diminutive life forms.

"With this new focus, we are able to bring new discoveries to many of these missing small components."

"Our development of methods for recovering the delicate bones of small vertebrates has made this exciting discovery possible," said Ben Kligman, PhD student.

"Our goal is to use similar techniques in the Chinle Formation to discover the early life of other small animals, including lizards, salamanders, turtles and mammals."

The oldest frogs ever discovered were found in rocks of Madagascar and Poland, dating back about 250 million years ago.

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The specimen discovered by Dr. Stocker and his team in Arizona looked more like modern frogs than these older individuals, but it is not thought to be a direct ancestor of the amphibians seen today in ponds around the world. whole.

As scientists continue to search through their rock samples, they hope to find additional skulls and bones that will allow them to learn more about Chinle frogs.

The results were published in the journal Biology Letters.

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