Artistic interpretation of the newly discovered Chinle frog, suspended from the jaw of a phytosaur, a highly shielded semi-aquatic reptile.
Credit: Andrey Atuchin / Virginia Tech
It is possible that during the trias, the crocodile-like phytosaur broke against a frog-like creature, but that it failed. That's a good thing, because 216 million years later, paleontologists discovered the fossils of these tiny creatures, the oldest known parent of North America, after a new study.
This frog – nicknamed the Chinle Frog because it was found in the North Carolina Chinle Formation – is an important discovery, but the creature itself was small, measuring just 1.3 cm (0.5 inches) long.
"The Chinle frog could fit on the tip of your finger," said in a statement the research's chief investigator Michelle Stocker, assistant professor of geoscience at Virginia Tech. [40 Freaky Frog Photos]
Frog fossils have been discovered next to crocodile-like phytosaur fossils and early dinosaur fossils, the researchers said. Scientists, however, have not found skeletons of whole frogs, but rather some fragmented bones, or hip bones, from several of these old frogs during a search in May 2018. But they are hoping soon find other frog fossils, that's why they have not yet given the creature a scientific name.
They are still scanning the earth and the excavated rocks on the site, where they expect to find more skull and skeleton in the frogs – the findings say that they will be more informative about the 39 identity of this kind of creature, said Stocker.
The team noted that although specimens of Chinle are distant relatives of frogs, they are not the direct ancestor of modern frogs. But these are still salient, a group that includes live frogs and their missing relatives.
In fact, the researchers noted that the Chinle frog is the oldest known Salientian close to the equator.
This is because during the Triassic Period, where these frog-like animals lived, Arizona was not what it is today. Instead, the state of the Grand Canyon was once part of the supercontinent Pangea and was about 10 degrees north of the equator, the researchers said.
An analysis of the hips' bones of frogs shows that the species shares more characteristics than modern frogs and Prosalirus, an early Jurassic frog discovered in the current Navajo nation, that she does with triadobatrachus, a frog from the beginning of the Triassic found in modern Madagascar.
"These are the oldest frogs near the equator," Stocker said. "In total, the oldest frogs are about 250 million years old from Madagascar and Poland, but these specimens come from higher latitudes. [than the Chinle frog] and not equatorial. "
The discovery of the Chinle frog can also be a sign of things to come. "Now [that] we know that tiny frogs were present about 215 million years ago in North America, we might be able to find other members of the modern vertebrate communities of the Triassic period, "he said. co-researcher Sterling Nesbitt, assistant professor of geoscience at Virginia Tech., said in the statement.
The study was published online today (February 27) in the journal Biology Letters.
Originally published on Science live.