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ResearchBlogging.orgA PAPER PUBLISHED recently in Nature details the discovery of a common ancestor of salamanders and frogs, Gerobatrachus hottoni, by Anderson and coworkers. This creature had a salamander-like build, but has a broadened skull like frogs. A variety of traits were studied to determine this organism’s relationships, such as the teeth, various skull bones, presacral spine, and otic notch. Its position in the early Permian places the frog/salamander divergence in the Middle Permian, about 270-260 million years ago. Of course this find is interesting, but I was perhaps more interested by the phylogenetic tree that they composed including this new species.

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WILL BAIRD of Dragon’s Tales posted Wednesday on the topic of dicynodonts, complete with artistic renditions. He mentions the last dicynodont fossil known showed up in the early Cretaceous, and speculates some might have survived to the end of the Cretaceous. Too bad they couldn’t make it to the present day! Since these creatures were a branch on the line to mammalian evolution, retain features of our therapsid ancestors, and are long extinct I think there are a lot of paleontologists and evolutionary biologists out there who would sacrifice various body parts if it would enable us to find a living example. I’m not even a paleontologist and I’d consider giving up a little toe.