A scientists team, led by Christopher Beard, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas, shed light on an otherwise poorly documented interval of evolutionary history through fossils discovered in the Libyan desert.
A new fossil has been found that proves the existence of a previously undiscovered species of ancient carnivorous amphibian. The massive fish-eating salamander prowled the land and water in the late Triassic Period more than 200 million years ago.
According to Science News, the fossils were discovered in a lake bed in Portugal by Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh and a team of colleagues. The bones were dated to be roughly 220 million-years-old, and they are believed to belong to a new species of temnospondyl amphibian. The ancient beast has been given the scientific name Metoposaurus algarvensis.
People have been finding fossils for hundreds of years, probably even thousands of years. The Greeks and Romans may have found fossils, giving rise to their many ogre and griffin legends. There are references to “dragon” bones found in Wucheng, Sichuan, China (written by Chang Qu) over 2,000 years ago; these were probably dinosaur fossils.
Beard has also discovered several new species of fauna, including a new species of the primate Apidium, which considers to be the most exciting of the fossils uncovered so far. According to Beard, their paper in the Journal of African Earth Sciences sheds light on a poorly documented interval of our own evolutionary history, and shows climate and environmental change can utterly alter a local ecosystem — from a wet, subtropical forest in the Eocene to a dry desert today.
The lead author of the research, however, says that another return to the field in Libya to continue the work is practically problematic, and currently impossible until the country is stable.