Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First giant salamander was a hot hunter

Date:
September 20, 2012
Source:
Universitaet Tübingen
Summary:
Modern giant salamanders live only in water – but their ancestors ventured out on land, say geoscientists at the University of Tübingen.

Aviturus exsecratus (reconstruction).
Credit: Image courtesy of Universitaet Tübingen

Modern giant salamanders live only in water -- but their ancestors ventured out on land, say geoscientists at the University of Tübingen.

Giant salamanders (cryptobranchidae) are amazing animals. These amphibians can live to be 100, can grow up to two meters in length, and they have been around for more than 56 million years. The fossils of giant salamanders are found relatively often in Eurasia; they show little variation from their modern descendants. Early giant salamanders had a similar lifestyle and were just as big as today's, which live in East Asia and North America. But while the latter stick to oxygen-rich, fast-flowing mountain streams in China, Japan and the US, their ancestors also lived in rivers and lakes in the lowlands.

Now, geoscientists at the University of Tübingen have discovered another difference. The oldest known giant salamander, aviturus exsecratus, was able to live on land as well as in water, according to Professor Dr. Madelaine Böhme of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoecology at the University of Tübingen and Dr. Davit Vasilyan of the Terrestrial Palaeoclimatology working group. In the light of recent information, the researchers reexamined fossils of aviturus exsecratus, which lived some 56 million years ago in what is now southern Mongolia. They were able to demonstrate that the animal hunted for food both in the water and on land. That makes it different from all the later giant salamanders, which live or lived only in water. These results are presented in online in the journal PLOS ONE.

The development of a species from a purely aquatic lifestyle to an amphibious-terrestrial lifestyle is linked with gigantism and sustained growth and is called peramorphosis. It is completely unknown in modern salamanders. Individual development like that was only seen in palaeozoological amphibians such as eryops, which lived 300 million years ago.

The scientists suspect that aviturus exsecratus lived on fish and invertebrates in the water -- as suggested by the shape of its lower jaw. At the same time, aviturus probably hunted insects. Terrestrial adaptation is indicated by the animal's heavy bones, long hind legs, a well-developed sense of smell, and palatal dentition typical of a terrestrial salamander. Also, fossil remains of this huge, up to 2m long animal were found in rock typically formed from water's-edge sediments.

The researchers think this drastic individual development in aviturus exsecratus was probably due to a short period of global warming 55.8 million years ago: the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. This most sudden climate change since the death of the dinosaurs saw global temperatures rise 6 degrees Celsius within around 20,000 years.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitaet Tübingen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Davit Vasilyan, Madelaine Böhme. Pronounced Peramorphosis in Lissamphibians—Aviturus exsecratus (Urodela, Cryptobranchidae) from the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum of Mongolia. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (9): e40665 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040665

Cite This Page:

Universitaet Tübingen. "First giant salamander was a hot hunter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120920082524.htm>.
Universitaet Tübingen. (2012, September 20). First giant salamander was a hot hunter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120920082524.htm
Universitaet Tübingen. "First giant salamander was a hot hunter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120920082524.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Turns Out Jack The Ripper's True Identity Is Still Unknown

Turns Out Jack The Ripper's True Identity Is Still Unknown

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — After testing DNA from a shawl found near one of Jack the Ripper's victims, a scientist said he'd identified the killer. New reports refute the claim. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A 380-million-year-old fish may be the first creature to have copulative sex - and it was side by side with arms linked, like square dancers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — With Sweden on the look-out for a suspected Russian sub, a lot of people are talking about the Cold War, but is it an apt comparison? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) — Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins