40 million-year-old frog fossil found in Antarctica

Hyperaxion Apr 25, 2020

Discovery brings clues about the climate in the icy territory before it separates from the supercontinent Gondwana.

A frog fossil discovered in Antarctica by researchers from Sweden, Argentina and Switzerland brought new clues about the times when the icy continent was hot, before separating from the supercontinent Gondwana. The animal, presented in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports last Thursday (23), is from the family of helmeted toads (Calyptocephalellidae).

40 million-year-old frog fossil found in Antarctica
Reconstruction of an Eocene pond in the Nothofagus forest of the Antarctic Peninsula with Calyptocephalella, sitting on a leaf of Notonuphar antarctica which was described from the same locality. (Credit: Pollyanna von Knorring, Swedish Museum of Natural History).

Among the scientists’ findings are part of a hip and a skull, found during expeditions to Seymour Island, in the Antarctic Peninsula, between 2011 and 2013. The specimen is approximately 40 million years old and is from the Eocene period.

Currently, there are no traces of cold-blooded amphibians or reptiles in Antarctica. In South America, however, there are five species of helmeted frogs. With that, the discovery suggests that the climatic conditions of the Antarctic Peninsula during the end of the middle Eocene may have been comparable to the humid and temperate climate of the forests of South America – which probably became the new home of these amphibians, according to the study.

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