The remains of a “super salamander” thought to be the size of a car and one of the Earth’s top predators 230 million years ago have been discovered in Portugal.
The previously undiscovered species, which is said to be a distant relative of today's salamander species, was found by scientists among a bed of bones on the site of an ancient lake in southern Portugal.
The creature is believed to have lived in rivers and lakes much like today’s crocodiles and alligators but was distinguishable by its large “toilet shaped” head. Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said the new amphibian would have looked like “something out of a bad monster movie” and “had hundreds of sharp teeth in its big flat head, which kind of looks like a toilet seat when the jaws snap shut.“
The creature that has been given the name Metoposaurus algarvensis, measured 2 metres in length and fed mostly on fish and other prehistoric creatures.
Dr Brusatte said: ”It was the type of fierce predator that the very first dinosaurs had to put up with if they strayed too close to the water, long before the glory days of T-rex and Brachiosaurus.“
It existed during the late Triassic period, the time in which dinosaurs began to appear across Pangaea, the supercontinent, which was made up of every one of today’s continents.
Nevertheless, giant amphibians like the Metoposaurus algarvensis, didn’t last long after that, and when Pangea started to break up around 200 years ago, they experienced a mass extinction, paving the way for dinosaurs to dominate. The bones of the “super salamander” were found alongside the bones of several hundred other creatures at the dig site in southern Portugal.
With only a fraction of the site having been dug so far, it is hoped that more new discoveries can come to light in the coming months.Reuse content