Ancient frogs were predators with thousands of teeth: Research
TORONTO — Canadian researchers say they’ve found evidence that the ancient ancestors of modern-day frogs were once keen predators with thousands of teeth to help devour their prey.
The team from the University of Toronto examined fossils of animals believed to have evolved into the amphibians people are familiar with today.
The fossils, believed to be 289 million years old, show that frogs, salamanders and other amphibians have evolved significantly over time.
While modern frogs have several small teeth lining the edges of their mouths, their predecessors’ jaws were much more menacing.
The ancient ancestors, known as dissorophoids, boasted thousands of tiny hooked teeth throughout the roof of their mouths, as well as large fangs meant to sink into their prey.
Senior researcher Robert Reisz says the findings raise intriguing questions about the way the species has evolved over the millennia.
“It’s an interesting mystery,” Reisz said in an interview. “It takes a lot of energy to make these teeth, and it may have been that they were not needed in the changeover from these ancient terrestrial predators to frogs and salamanders.” Reisz said the perfectly preserved fossils were discovered in caves located in Oklahoma alongside thousands of other bones. He said the caves acted as natural traps for animals of the period and helped maintain their remains in excellent condition over the centuries.