Tuesday, 24 March 2015

'Monster salamanders' found in fossilised mass grave

By Jonathan Webb
Science reporter, BBC News

24 March 2015 

Scientists have discovered a new species of massive, toothy amphibian dating from 220 million years ago.

Hundreds of the creatures probably died when a lake dried up, leaving a huge jumble of bones which is now being excavated in southern Portugal.

Although related to modern salamanders, the two-metre beast probably lived more like a crocodile, snapping up fish and scrapping with rivals on the shore.

The find is reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Nobody's pet
"It's basically a salamander that's the size of a car," said Dr Steve Brusatte, a palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh who led the research.

"It's one of those creatures from the distant past that looks like an alien - but it actually has quite a lot of relevance. These kind of big amphibians were the ancestral stock that modern frogs, salamanders and newts came from."

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