The remains of a frog were first found in Antarctica. Their further study will allow better dating of changes in the climate of the continent.
Paleontologists have discovered fragments of the hip bones and frog skull in sediments that are about 40 million years old. Scientists have found them on the island of Seymour – the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Scientists previously discovered traces of the giant amphibians that existed in Antarctica in the Triassic period – more than 200 million years ago. However, they differed from the shape of the recently discovered bones – this frog belonged to the family Calyptocephalellidae.
At the same time, modern relatives of the petrified frog live exclusively in warm and humid conditions – for example, the Chilean Andes. This suggests that similar climatic conditions were in Antarctica about 40 million years ago, the researchers said.
This will give researchers an idea of how the climate in Antarctica has changed. Researchers suggest that it froze after separation from Australia and South America when they were one supercontinent. However, some geological data indicate that ice sheets began to form in Antarctica before it completely separated from other southern continents.
“The question is how cold it was and what kind of animals existed on the continent when ice sheets began to form,” said study co-author Thomas Mörs, paleontologist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. “This frog is further evidence that the peninsula was then a suitable habitat for cold-blooded animals such as reptiles and amphibians”.