Fossil Species Named for Iconic Muppet Frog

One place paleontologists can dig for interesting and unidentified fossils, and that has yielded many awesome discoveries, is the archives at the Smithsonian Institution. That's where researchers found and studied a new species of amphibian ancestor that has been named Kermitops gratus for its resemblance to Kermit the Frog. The fossil is around 270 million years old, and was originally found in Texas forty years ago. Jim Henson would have been proud.

"We thought that the eyelid bones gave the fossil a bug-eyed look," said Calvin So, a George Washington University palaeontology doctoral student and the lead author of the study. "Combined with a lopsided smile produced by slight crushing during the preservation of the fossil, we really thought it looked like Kermit the Frog."

The skull of Kermitops gratus is only three centimeters long, and no other bones of the body were found. Scientists believe its body may have resembled a salamander's. The skull shows features not found in earlier tetrapods, and so it fills in a blank in the lineage of amphibians, a class of animals that gave rise to frogs, salamanders, and caecilians. Read more about Kermitops gratus at ABC.  -via Metafilter ā€‹

(Image credit: AFP: Smithsonian)

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