Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fedexia striegeli

Image: Mark A. Klingler/Carnegie Museum
An interesting "rock" initially tossed aside at a FedEx site near Pittsburgh International Airport turns out to be the skull of a meat-eating, early terrestrial amphibian that lived 70 million years before the first dinosaurs emerged, according to a paper released today in Annals of Carnegie Museum.

The approximately 300-million-year-old carnivorous amphibian has been named Fedexia striegeli, after the well-known shipping service and Adam Striegel, who spotted the animal's well-preserved, five-inch-long fossil skull while he was a University of Pittsburgh student on a field trip.

Striegel originally threw it aside, thinking it wasn't important, but then he and class lecturer Charles Jones noticed pointy teeth and tusks, so the skull was brought to experts at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

"Fedexia might have resembled, using modern analogies, an overgrown or giant newt salamander about 2 feet long, including the tail, with a coarse, granular skin texture," co-author David Berman, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the museum, told Discovery News. link