Ancient armored amphibian had world’s oddest bite

By | December 15, 2008

Ancient armored amphibian had world's oddest bite

A peculiar amphibian that was clad in bony armor prowled warm lakes 210 million years ago, catching fish and other tasty snacks with one of the most unusual bites in the history of life on Earth.

The creature called Gerrothorax pulcherrimus, which lived alongside some of the early dinosaurs, opened its mouth not by dropping its lower jaw, as other vertebrate animals do.

Instead, it lifted back the top of its head in a way that looked a lot like lifting the lid of a toilet seat.

“It’s weird. It’s the ugliest animal in the world,” Harvard University’s Farish Jenkins, one of the scientists who describe the mechanics of its bite in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, said in a telephone interview on Friday.

“You almost can’t imagine holding your jaws still and lifting your head back to take a bite,” Jenkins said. … – nd

I’d love to take sight seeing tours of the ancient Earth in a time machine.

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