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A recent amphibian species that was found by scientists has been named after the popular character Kermit the Frog.
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A recent amphibian species that was found by scientists has been named after the popular character Kermit the Frog.

Kermit the Frog, known for his successful movies and TV appearances, has now received a new honor: a fossil that is 270 million years old, which has been named after him and can be found on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Researchers have identified a type of prehistoric amphibian precursor, given the moniker Kermitops gratus for its striking similarity to the iconic vibrant green character from The Muppet Show.

It is believed that the prehistoric animals were some of the initial amphibians and played a significant role in the evolution of life from aquatic to terrestrial environments.

Forty years ago, the specimen was found in a region of Texas called the Red Beds. However, it was not studied until recently when it was added to the fossil collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The fossil skull of Kermitops alongside a modern frog skull.

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According to Calvin So, a PhD student at George Washington University in Washington DC, using the moniker Kermit can have significant consequences in connecting the research of paleontologists at museums with the broader population.

“Since this creature shares a common ancestry with present-day amphibians and Kermit is a modern symbol of amphibians, it was an ideal choice for its name.”

In 2021, Dr. Arjan Mann, a paleontologist at the museum, discovered a fossil which he described as a “highly intact and carefully prepared skull”.

Researchers examined the preserved skull measuring one inch, which displayed prominent and elliptical eye openings.

Mann and So recognized the fossil to be a temnospondyl, which belonged to a varied collection of prehistoric amphibian ancestors that existed 360m to 200m years ago.

Kermit the Frog, the famous puppet created by Jim Henson in 1955.

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After examining the skull, the researchers found a combination of characteristics that they classified as a mix, differing from the characteristics observed in the skulls of ancestral tetrapods, which are the four predecessors of amphibians and other vertebrates that are still alive.

According to them, the part of the skull located behind the eyes of the Kermitops was noticeably shorter compared to its long, curved snout.

They stated that the skull ratios, which may have resembled those of a robust salamander, would have aided Kermitops in catching minuscule insect prey.

The initial evidence of amphibians and their forebears in the fossil record is limited, posing a challenge in comprehending the evolution of frogs, salamanders, and related species.

According to the researchers, while a fossil of Miss Piggy, resembling Kermit’s ex-wife, has not been found, Kermitops provides insight to help fill this “enormous gap” in fossil discoveries.

Mann stated that this is an area of research that requires further investigation by palaeontologists. He also emphasized that palaeontology goes beyond dinosaurs and presents many intriguing evolutionary narratives and unanswered mysteries.

Kermit, the famous creation of puppeteer Jim Henson, was originally introduced in 1955.

He served as the host for The Muppet Show and made appearances in a variety of sketches on Sesame Street.

The amphibian is multifaceted and has a strong singing ability. Some of their popular tracks include “Bein’ Green” and “Rainbow Connection”.

Source: theguardian.com