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Some prehistoric amphibians could move like today’s crocodiles

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Large amphibians that roamed the Earth in the Permian period may have had a similar locomotion pattern to today’s crocodiles. A team of researchers from South Africa came to these conclusions.

At a time when crocodiles did not yet exist, large amphibians lived on Earth that moved like them, scientists report in the academic journal “PLOS One”.

They lived about 255 million years ago

Prehistoric amphibians, measuring two meters in length, moved and swam like crocodiles long before real crocodiles appeared on Earth, scientists led by David P. Groenewald of the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) say.

In the late Permian period, about 255 million years ago, in what is now southern Africa, there lived huge predatory amphibians belonging to the temnospondyls that looked like crocodiles or salamanders. The analysis of fossils and traces left allows us to reconstruct their way of moving.

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They ran the prints

Scientists studied seven body prints left on the bottom of what was then a shallow lagoon, as well as tail prints. Thanks to this, it was possible to reconstruct the way animals move. It was probably two individuals that moved from one lounging or feeding site to another.

The sinusoidal tracks suggest that the animals moved through the water using sideways movements of the tail, similar to today’s crocodiles. Few paw prints indicate that they tucked their legs up, holding them along their bodies, again reminiscent of crocodile locomotion.

Scientists emphasize that the results of the research allow us to learn about the way of life of such distant organisms, which does not happen often. You can understand how they foraged and interacted with their environment.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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