Scientists at UNSW Sydney and the Australian Museum have formally named and described a 240-million-year-old amphibian fossil, known as Arenaerpeton supinatus. The remarkable find was made when rocks, intended for use in a garden retaining wall, revealed the nearly complete skeleton and the outlines of its skin.
The fossil provides a rare and unique glimpse into the past, offering insights into the amphibian’s appearance and habitat. Arenaerpeton inhabited freshwater rivers in what is now known as the Sydney Basin during the Triassic period. Its resemblance to the modern Chinese Giant Salamander is striking, but this ancient creature was much larger and had distinctive teeth.
The significance of this discovery cannot be overstated. The detailed study of this fossil contributes greatly to Australian paleontological history and sheds light on the evolution of amphibians in the region. The rock layers in which Arenaerpeton was found are approximately 240 million years old, making this fossil one of the oldest and most well-preserved amphibian specimens in Australia.
Due to its importance, the fossil will be showcased at the Australian Museum later this year. This public display will allow visitors to admire and learn from this exceptional piece of natural history. The exhibit will offer a unique opportunity to observe the intricate details of the fossil, allowing researchers, students, and the public to appreciate the remarkable preservation that has taken place since Arenaerpeton roamed the ancient river systems.
The naming and describing of Arenaerpeton supinatus is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the scientists involved. It highlights the ongoing efforts to uncover and understand the rich fossil record of Australia. As new discoveries continue to be made, our understanding of the past grows, providing a deeper appreciation for the incredible biodiversity that once existed and the processes that shaped life on Earth.