New Mexico researcher recognized for helping uncover new amphibian species

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A New Mexico researcher is being recognized for his work uncovering a new amphibian species from millions of years ago. “It was alive 300 million years ago which is right at the Pennsylvanian Permian Boundary,” said Research Associate at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Larry Rinehart.

Rinehart worked with researchers in Germany on a discovery of Stenokranio boldi, an ancient species found in Germany. They recently published work on the amphibian. Members of the species were carnivores, weighed about 150 pounds, and grew to five feet long.

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Rinehart said in the time period it was alive, all of the continents were connected, and Germany and New Mexico weren’t far apart. According to Rinehart, “They were on opposite ends of the continent which was fairly narrow and across a mountain range from each other. And the animals were similar.”

The Eryops, found in New Mexico, is considered to be a close relative of the Stenokranio boldi as they are both species of the Eryopid family. The museum said it will be on display sometime this year. “It was a very big amphibian. Amphibians 300 million years ago were not frogs and salamanders, they were like the top predators,” said Rinehart.

Although they differ from their modern-day descendants, the Eryopids have similarities. “There are holes in the pallet that are part of his breathing apparatus. Today, if you watch a frog breathe you see this little flutter under his chin, these guys had the same kind of breathing apparatus,” added Rinehart.

The museum hopes to get a cast of the German species to display here in New Mexico.

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