The fossil was found near Umina Beach, a seaside town, in the mid 1990s.
A stout amphibian with tusk-like features and “gnarly teeth” has been identified by scientists as an undiscovered fossil that was mistakenly found by an Australian chicken farmer in the 1990s.
While burying a massive sandstone slab that was meant to be the foundation of his garden, Mihail Mihailidis unearthed an incredible fossil that is 240 million years old.
The Australian Museum received a near-perfect specimen in 1997, which has left experts scratching their heads for almost three decades as they try to determine the species.
The amphibian has been identified as a “heavyset” creature by Lachlan Hart, palaeontologist from University of New South Wales, and it measures around 1.2 metres (nearly four feet) in length from snout to tail, similar to comparing the size of crocodile droppings with that of giant salamanders.
It was rumored to have used its “pretty gnarly teeth” and “a pair of fang-like tusks on the roof of its mouth” to prey on freshwater fish, according to his statement.
“Soft tissue preservation is an even rarer condition in skeletons, and it’s not often seen with the head and body still attached,” Hart explained.
“Arenaerpeton supinatus” is the scientific name that has been given to the creature, which researchers said roughly translates to “supine sand creeper”.
Hart stated that the animal is from a group of animals called the “temnospondyls” that no longer exist and roamed the earth before the dinosaurs.
The fossil was subjected to X-raying by Australia’s border force, which allowed it to be searched for contraband using a large scanner.
The discovery of the object occurred in the mid 1990s near Umina Beach, a seaside town located about an hour’s drive north of Sydney in New South Wales.
Time Magazine’s suggestion that it could “enhance the evolution of humans” caused a surge in international publicity.
According to Australian Museum palaeontologist Matthew McCurry, the discovery of one of the most significant fossils in New South Wales in the past 30 years is now being formally described and it is an exciting prospect.
“Australia’s fossil record is incomplete without this.”
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