Fossils discovered in Scotland represent some of the world's oldest salamanders, according to a new study led by UCL researchers.
The research team analyzed 166-million-year-old fossils of a type of animal called Marmorerpeton, found in Middle Jurassic rocks on the Isle of Skye.
They found that it has several key salamander traits, but is not part of the modern group of salamanders. Their results are reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The specimen is believed to be the oldest salamander fossil found in Europe.
Marmorerpeton was first described over 30 years ago, but only a few isolated fossil vertebrae and partial jaw bones were found, making it somewhat enigmatic. The new Scottish material adds a wealth of new data, and it also represents a new species: Marmorerpeton wakei, named after the late Professor David Wake, a leading American authority on salamander evolution.