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Giant amphibian fossils found in Portugal

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 01:24

Scientists discover a new species of giant amphibian that was one of the largest predators on earth about 220 million year ago. Tara Cleary reports.

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Scientists Octavio Mateus and Alexandra Tomas clean the fossilized bones of a new species of amphibian found in Portugal. Called Metoposaurus algarvensis, the giant salamanders were about two meters long and similar to today's crocodiles. They lived in lakes and rivers around 220 million years ago - making them much older than T-Rex. Metoposaurus fossil remains have been found before, in Africa, Europe and North America, but differences in the skull and jaw of those unearthed in Portugal suggest they belong to a different species. Mateus says the fossils were discovered in a graveyard full of bones where dozens of animals may have died. SOUNDBITE: Octavio Mateus, paleontologist, University of Nova in Lisbon, saying (English): "Why do we have so many of these large amphibians in one spot alone? We think this was an ancient lake that kind of dried out until a small part, a few square meters with the last bit of water and all these animals stayed around and hoped to have some rain, never came and they all dried out and they all died in the same spot." Only a fraction of the site has been excavated so far, and the team will continue trying to unearth new fossils.

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Giant amphibian fossils found in Portugal

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 01:24