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Amphibian Missing Link

June 9, 2008

The discovery of an ancient fossil dubbed the “Frogomander” is clearing up a mystery about the origins of modern amphibians.


Between frogs and salamanders. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

On a recent Science Update, we told you that ancient amphibians are rare in the fossil record, making the origin of modern amphibians a mystery. Well, we have an update. Vertebrate paleontologist Jason Anderson of the University of Calgary and his colleagues recently examined a fossil that was originally discovered in Texas back in 1995.

JASON ANDERSON (University of Calgary):
I immediately recognized it as something special and something really exciting. It shows unique features both of frogs and of salamanders so it’s a little of one, a little of the other, so that’s why we’re calling it a "Frogomander" now.

The discovery of the Frogomander, also known by its scientific name Gerobatrachus hotteni, confirms that frogs and salamanders evolved from a single group of ancient amphibians called temnospondyls and diverged from each other less than 300 million years ago. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.