Kermitops gratus: The Frothy Frog of the Past: How a Fossilized Creature is Bridging the Gap between Science and Public Interest

Ancient Amphibian Ancestor Named After Iconic Muppet: Meet Kermit the Proto-Frog

A newly discovered ancient amphibian ancestor has been given a name that honors the beloved Muppets character, Kermit the Frog. The creature, known as Kermitops gratus, lived 270 million years ago and had a skull the size of the palm of your hand. The fossilized bone, just over an inch long, features well-preserved oval eye sockets.

The discovery of Kermitops gratus was made by paleontologist Nicholas Hotton III in Texas in 2004 but was rediscovered by postdoctoral paleontologist Arjan Mann in 2021. This ancient creature is classified as a temnospondyl, a precursor to modern amphibians that existed between the Carboniferous and Triassic periods. Its distinct wide face and eyes, reminiscent of the Muppets character, caught the attention of researchers.

Despite some damage to the palate and brain case, Kermitops gratus displays remarkably preserved features such as tiny palpebral ossicles in the eyelids. Calvin So, a doctoral student at George Washington University and lead author of the study believes that naming this ancient amphibian after Kermit helps bridge the gap between scientific research and public interest in paleontology. This unique choice of name highlights the importance of sharing scientific discoveries with a wider audience.

Kermitops gratus is a testament to how far we have come as humans in understanding our evolutionary past. Its discovery sheds light on how creatures like this once thrived in an environment vastly different from ours today. With continued research and exploration into our past, we can gain even more insight into what it means to be human.

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