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Chinese Frog Discovery

 
 
Chinese frog discovery sheds light on amphibians' evolution
ABC Online 20/112001

Chinese scientists have discovered Asia's oldest frog fossils, some dating as far back as 125 million years ago, which they believe could help explain the evolution of amphibians.

Wang Yan, associate research fellow in the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), says the fossils have been found in the north-eastern province of Liaoning.

"Hundreds of Cretaceous amphibian fossils have been unearthed from the famous dinosaur fossil beds at Sihetun in the western part of Liaoning province since 2000," Mr Wang said.

"Among them there is a rare fossilized frog dating back to 125 million years ago."

Mr Wang says the well-preserved specimen, which has been named "Sanyanlichan", is the earliest and "sole definite discoglossid fossil in Asia, and the second fully articulated specimen of the Mesozoic age".

He says its most prominent characteristic is its nine presacral vertebra, one more than any extant frogs.

Mr Wang says this could provide important evidence in the study of amphibian evolution.

He says it is "of remarkable significance because the animal is a linkage between aquatic and terrestrial life forms, representing a great success in evolution."

END OF REPORT

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