Paleontologists at New University discover Greenland’s largest amphibian


A new species of amphibian more than 208 million years old, the largest discovered to date in Greenland, was announced this week by an international team that also integrates paleontologists from the New University of Lisbon Octávio Mateus and Marco Marzola.

“It is undoubtedly the largest amphibian we have in Greenland, because this animal has a skull of 57 centimeters and a length of 2.5 meters”, said the Italian Lusa agency Marco Marzola, who is currently in Portugal to finish His doctoral thesis related to vertebrates that about 200 million years ago lived precisely in Greenland.

This researcher from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, is the main author of this study, which was published in the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology”, in which he describes the new discovered species, named ‘Cyclotosaurus naraserluki’, together with the Portuguese Octavio Mateus, from University of Chicago’s Neil Shubin, and Danish professor Lars Clemmensen of the University of Copenhagen.

This is the eighth species of amphibian ‘Cyclotosaurus’ which until now was completely unknown by paleontologists, although the skull and two vertebrae of this animal were already excavated in the early 1990s in Greenland by the American Farish Jenkins of Harvard University and are already on display at GeoCenter Møns Klint in Denmark.

In assessing “the cranial architecture and details of skull bones”, namely “holes in the muzzle and ears”, other than cyclotosaurs found in Germany and Poland, the researchers concluded that this is indeed a new species, Explained to Lusa, Octávio Mateus and Marco Marzola.
It is thought that the Greenland Cyclosaurus lived about 208 million years ago in the Triassic at the beginning of dinosaur evolution, this allows paleontologists to better compare the fossils of faunas excavated in the different continents of the planet.

In addition to the ‘Cyclotosaurus’, there are also ‘Gerrothorax’, another genus of amphibians, found in Germany, Sweden and Greenland.

The researchers at the New University of Lisbon consider that these findings are scientific proof that, contrary to what was thought, the fossils found by the paleontologists of Greenland, have more similarities to those found in Europe than to those found in North America.

“We have always stated that the dinosaurs of the Jurassic of Portugal are more similar to those of North America than to the rest of Europe,” said Octavio Mateus, a researcher for whom the similarities between the fossils of Portugal and Greenland are explained “by the latitude of Greenland which, at that time, occupied a position today equivalent to the north of Portugal and Galicia” and was “much to the south”.

Whereas, 200 million years ago, southern Greenland was close to Galicia and northern Portugal, and the primitive Atlantic Ocean was relatively less “animals migrated from one place to another”.

Portuguese paleontologists found anatomical similarities between the new species now discovered and the amphibian ‘Metoposaurus algarvensis’, excavated in Loulé, Algarve, by a team from Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

The name given to the new species results from the combination of the genus “Cyclotosaurus”, to which it belongs, and the word “naraserluki” which, among the native population of Greenland, means ‘amphibian salamander’, in view of the similarities of this being with the salamanders.