Website powered by

How to weigh a prehistoric amphibian?

Estimating the mass of temnospondyls is tricky, as these amphibians do not have modern descendants to perform direct comparisons and tests. The recently published study by Lachlan Hart, Nicolás Campione and Matt McCurry approaches the topic with different techniques, applying them on the temnospondyls Eryops megacephalus and Paracyclotosaurus davidi, as well as some modern animals to analyze the consistency of the results.

The authors note that there is possibly no absolute technique to use in temnospondyls, as the group is richly diverse and the preservation and preparation of its fossils vary greatly. However, different techniques give good results, and it is possible to select the optimal approaches for a given specimen.

In the study, Eryops was estimated in 102-222 kg, and Paracyclotosaurus in 159-365 kg. It is important to be able to calculate the mass of extinct animals because the better we know this value, the better we understand the life of these creatures.

I had the pleasure of producing this illustration for the media coverage of the new research!

Check out the article here: