Fossil Skull of Kermitops

Brittany M. Hance, Smithsonian.
March 21, 2024
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Rough textured fossilized skull against black backdrop.
Brittany M. Hance, Smithsonian.

The fossil skull of Kermitops.

The skull possesses a mishmash of traits that were different from features seen in the skulls of older tetrapods, the ancient ancestors of amphibians and other living four-legged vertebrates. For example, the region of the skull behind the animal’s eyes was much shorter than its elongated, curved snout. These skull proportions helped the animal, which likely resembled a stout salamander, snap up tiny grub-like insects.

Scientists have uncovered the fossilized skull of a 270-million-year-old ancient amphibian ancestor in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. In a paper published today, March 21, in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the team of researchers described the fossil as a new species of proto-amphibian, which they named Kermitops gratus in honor of the iconic Muppet, Kermit the Frog.

Note: USNM PAL 407585, Department of Paleobiology, Smithsonian Institution.

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