Ancient Amphibian Ancestor Named After Iconic Muppet Kermit

A well-preserved fossil of a proto-amphibian has been discovered in Texas by paleontologist Nicholas Hotton III. Known as Kermitops gratus, the amphibian lived 270 million years ago and had a skull that was just over an inch long. The discovery of this ancient creature was made in 2021 by postdoctoral paleontologist Arjan Mann who was impressed by its almost complete preservation despite some damage to the palate and braincase.

The skull of Kermitops gratus features oval eye sockets and a cartoonishly wide face and eyes that are reminiscent of the famous puppet character, Kermit the Frog. The attention to detail in the fossil provides researchers with a glimpse into the ancient amphibian’s anatomy, including the arrangement of palpebral ossicles, the tiny bones in an animal’s eyelids.

Calvin So, a doctoral student at George Washington University and the lead author on the study, emphasized the significance of using the name Kermit for this fossil. He noted that it could help bridge the gap between science and everyday life, making it more accessible and engaging for everyone. This discovery sheds light on how amphibians have evolved over time and highlights some fascinating features of ancient creatures like Kermitops gratus.

By Riley Johnson

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