Rediscovering Kermit: The Ancient Amphibian with a Familiar Face

Ancient Amphibian Ancestor Named After Iconic Muppet: Meet Kermit the Proto-Frog

In 2021, a postdoctoral paleontologist named Arjan Mann rediscovered a fossil of an ancient amphibian ancestor in Texas. The creature, known as Kermitops gratus, lived 270 million years ago and had a skull the size of the palm of your hand. The fossilized bone, just over an inch long, has well-preserved oval eye sockets.

Kermitops gratus is classified as a temnospondyl, a precursor to modern amphibians that existed between the Carboniferous and Triassic periods. The creature’s distinct wide face and eyes caught the attention of researchers, who noticed that its features were reminiscent of the Muppets character Kermit. Despite some damage to the palate and brain case, the fossil displays remarkably preserved features, including tiny palpebral ossicles in the eyelids.

The choice to name this ancient amphibian after Kermit has been seen as a way to connect with the general public. Dr. Calvin So, a doctoral student at George Washington University and lead author of the study believes that naming it Kermit helps bridge the gap between scientific research and public interest in paleontology. This unique choice of name highlights the importance of sharing scientific discoveries with a wider audience.

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