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Albanerpetontid amphibians from the Cretaceous of Spain


ALBANERPETONTIDS are a group of enigmatic salamander-like fossil amphibians known from deposits of middle Jurassic to Miocene age across Euramerica and Central Asia. Throughout a long history they remained remarkably conservative but can be diagnosed by a suite of unique derived character states, including an anterior peg-and-socket joint between the mandibles, non-pedicellate tricuspate teeth, a distinctive polygonal dermal sculpture pattern, and a two-part craniovertebral joint analogous to that of amniotes. Previous interpretations have placed albanerpetontids within salamanders1, 2 or as a separate amphibian group3, 4. We report here on the recovery of the first complete albanerpetontid specimens (including traces of skin and possible male courtship glands) from the early Cretaceous of Spain. The new material supports the interpretation of albanerpetontids as predominantly terrestrial animals. Albanerpetontids resemble salamanders only in retaining an unspecialized tailed body form; cladistic analysis suggests they represent a distinct lissamphibian lineage.

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McGowan, G., Evans, S. Albanerpetontid amphibians from the Cretaceous of Spain. Nature 373, 143–145 (1995).

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