Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tiny but feisty prehistoric wesserpeton amphibian discovered

A tiny but feisty species of amphibian that lived in the shadows of dinosaurs has been discovered by scientists.

The discovery of the wesserpeton fills a gap in the evolutionary history of a now-extinct group, the albanerpetontids, according to researchers at the University of Portsmouth.

The amphibian, nicknamed "Wessie", was about the size of a small, modern-day newt and unlike most amphibians, albanerpetontids had a scaly skin and eyelids, showing that they spent most of their time on land. Details of the skeleton also suggest that they were well adapted to burrowing.

The creature lived on the Isle of Wight, which has gained the nickname Dinosaur Island because of the number of fossils found there, about 130 million years ago during the early cretaceous period, at the same time as dinosaurs such as neovenator, iguanodon and giant, long-necked sauropods.

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