The remains of an amphibian that lived 40 million years ago were found by paleontologists on the Antarctic island of Seymour.
As a result of a scientific expedition to Seymour Island (east of the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula), scientists discovered the fossil remains of a frog that lived there during the Eocene epoch about 40 million years ago.
Fragments of the ilium and hyperossified (with overgrown layers of bone material, which is typical for some frogs) skull were found.
The shape of the bones found indicates that the ancient amphibian belonged to the Calyptocephalellidae family, also called helmet-headed frogs. Today they can be found in South America - exclusively in warm and humid climates. Fossil remains of a helmet-headed amphibian indicate that similar climatic conditions existed in Antarctica about 40 million years ago, and this is a very important discovery.
Fragments of the skull
Fragments of the ilium
It is the first modern amphibian found in Antarctica. Previously, paleontologists found traces of huge amphibians that roamed the continent more than 200 million years ago, but they have not yet met the remains of frogs familiar to our eyes.
The find proves that Eocene freshwater ecosystems in Antarctica provided a habitat favorable for exothermic vertebrates that receive heat from external sources such as the sun. These are just amphibians and reptiles.
It turns out that 40 million years ago, the climate in Antarctica resembled the Chilean Andes. Thanks to the remains, you can roughly imagine how quickly the climate in Antarctica changed from mild to cold. It is believed that this happened after the collapse of the supercontinent Gondwana, of which Australia, South America and Antarctica were parts. However, some geological surveys indicate that the Antarctic ice sheet began to form even before it separated from other modern continents.
“The question is how cold it was on the continent and who might have lived there when the ice sheet began to form,” says study co-author Thomas Moers, a paleontologist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. "This frog is further evidence that at the time, at least on the peninsula, there was still a suitable habitat for cold-blooded animals such as reptiles and amphibians."