Lizard-like ancient species discovered in Australia

The discovery of a new species of amphibian that lived in Australia approximately 247 million years ago has been made by scientists.

The discovery puts an end to a riddle that has fascinated experts since the 1990s, when the fossilized remains of the creature were discovered by a retired chicken farmer in New South Wales.

There are less than ten fossils of the lizard-like species that have been found across the world. The discovery may "rewrite the evolution of amphibians in Australia," according to the opinions of various experts.

A shattered garden wall at Mihail Mihaildis's home in Umina, which is around a 90-minute drive north of Sydney, was what led to the discovery of the amazing fossil almost three decades ago. Umina is located in New South Wales, Australia.

In order to resolve the issue, the elderly poultry farmer had already acquired a sandstone slab weighing 1.6 tons. However, when he proceeded to cut through the stone's outer layers, the silhouette of an unidentified creature became visible.

Following Mr. Mihaildis's communication with the Australian Museum in Sydney on his find, the latter institution received the fossil in 1997.

Lachlan Hart, the palaeontologist who would eventually interpret its petrified bones, had his first encounter with it when he was a boy. This meeting took place in a display area that was climate-controlled.

Mr. Hart mentioned that as a result of his childhood fascination with dinosaurs, he saw this fossil on display in 1997. It was 25 years later, that it was included in his doctoral dissertation.  

The fossil was given to Mr. Hart's team, which was researching life during the Triassic period in Australia approximately 250 million years ago, by "chance," according to Mr. Hart.

Mr. Hart explains that the mold contains a "nearly complete skeleton," which is almost unheard of. The fact that the head and body are attached, as well as the fossilization of the creature's skin and fatty tissues around its body, makes this an extremely uncommon find.

Based on these observations, Mr. Hart and his colleagues have deduced that the amphibian measured around 1.5 meters in length and had the body of a salamander.

The newly discovered species has been given the name Arenaepeton supinatus, which translates to "sand creeper on its back" from its Latin origins.

According to research conducted by scientists, the carnivorous amphibian used to call the freshwater lakes and streams of Sydney home. This particular species is a member of the Temnospondyli family, which consists of hardy amphibians that have endured two of the five mass extinction events that have occurred on earth.

One of these events was a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred 66 million years ago and wiped out 70–80 percent of all dinosaurs.

Only three other fossils believed to be of the Temnospondyli species have been positively identified in Australia. After mass extinctions, Australia was a great site for animals to evolve and find refuge.

Mr. Hart adds in light of the findings, which were published on Tuesday. In the latter half of this year, the amazing fossil will be presented to the public for the first time ever at the Australian Museum.