Ancient Amphibian Ancestor Named After Iconic Muppet Kermit

Frogging Back in Time: The Fascinating Discovery of Kermitops gratus, the Amphibian Ancestor Named after Kermit the Frog

A recently discovered amphibian ancestor, Kermitops gratus, has been named after the popular Muppet character Kermit the Frog. This proto-amphibian lived 270 million years ago and had a skull that was just over an inch long. It was found in Texas by paleontologist Nicholas Hotton III and later identified as a temnospondyl, a type of predecessor to modern amphibians that existed for over 200 million years.

The well-preserved fossil features oval eye sockets and a cartoonishly wide face and eyes that are reminiscent of the famous puppet. Postdoctoral paleontologist Arjan Mann rediscovered Hotton’s skull in 2021 and was impressed by its almost complete preservation. Despite some damage to the palate and braincase, the skull still showed intricate details like 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, highlighted the significance of using the name Kermit for the fossil. He noted that it could help bridge the gap between science and everyday life, making it more accessible and engaging for everyone. The discovery of Kermitops gratus sheds light on our understanding of amphibian evolution and provides insight into ancient creatures like this one named after a beloved Muppet character.

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