Giant salamander-like predator roamed Namibia 280 million years ago

G. jennyae might have looked like a hazardous, dramatically scaled-up salamander, like an enormous axolotl, it had not been a real amphibian. Rather, the pet belongs to an archaic group of four-legged animals, or tetrapods, which ultimately gave rise to amphibians, along with reptiles, birds and animals.

Claudia Marsicano at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and her colleagues have actually now defined these fossils thoroughly, naming the types Gaiasia jennyae after the Gai-As formation in Namibia and the palaeontologist Jennifer Clack.

The fossil animal was initial uncovered in 2015 in Namibia. In overall, scientists have discovered 4 incomplete specimens and price quote that the pet was 2.5-metres lengthy with a 60-centimetre-long head, making it the biggest of its kind ever found.

Marsicano claims it would have most likely pursued like a crocodile, lying in wait for victim to pass nearby. “Gaiasia was a marine animal with an extremely extended body that most likely swam like an eel, with very lowered limbs, making it extremely difficult for it to carry on completely dry land,” she states.

The discovery recontextualises our understanding of early tetrapod circulation. Many tetrapod fossils have actually been found in the northern hemisphere, a region that was centred on the equator 280 million years ago and had a tropical climate.

At that time, what is now Namibia would certainly have been at a much higher latitude, around 55 ° southern, claims Marsicano. “The area where the Gaiasia fossils were discovered was dominated by glaciations, and [at the time] harsh, cold-temperate climatic problems dominated.”


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