- A group of scientists headed by Dr. Thomas Mörs recently made an astounding discovery when they found a fossilized frog.
- The discovery proves that “helmeted frogs” lived in all continents, even Antarctica.
- The frog was found at the site of another marsupial discovery, which says Antarctica may have been warmer.
Thomas Mörs, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, recently announced an astounding find in Scientific Reports. This discovery is about finding the first frog fossil during a joint fossil-finding expedition in Antarctica’s Seymour Island.
During this expedition, Dr. Mörs and his team unearthed bits of skull and hip bone of “helmeted frogs.” The fossils date back to 40 million years ago and came with fossilized evidence of ancient lilies and sharks and ray teeth—all of which generally thrived in warmer climates.
It was definitely a lucky find for Dr. Mörs. He initially found the hip bone and he immediately knew it was a frog’s. “I first found the hip bone, and I directly realized that I found an Antarctic frog—the first,” he shared.
David Wake, a herpetologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not part of the team, said that “The ilium [hip bone] is probably the most diagnostic part of a frog skeleton. A frog paleontologist wants an ilium.”
This discovery is important as it marks the first Eocene frog fossil evidence discovered in Antarctica. According to Dr. Mörs, the “unexpected discovery” is “the first Antarctic amphibian for over 200 million years.”
This discovery of helmeted frogs pointed out how the land of ice and snow was very different once. “It tells us that whole ecosystems can be wiped out by global climate change, and that it might go fast,” explained Dr. Mörs.
According to experts, the 40 million-year-old helmeted frog found in Antarctica has modern-day relatives still thriving in Chile, South America. Before this game-changing discovery, Antarctica only had extinct prehistoric amphibians.
Originally believed to have originated from 250 million years ago, history tells us that frogs lived in all continents, except Antarctica.
Mörs pointed out “now we know that they lived on all seven, before one of them froze.”