An­cient frogs were preda­tors with thou­sands of teeth: Re­search

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - — The Cana­dian Press

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.

IlluSTrATIoN by brIAN ENgH/

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