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A Tiny Fossilized Treasure

On July 23, 2005, amateur paleontologist Tony Morris was looking for fossils with friends in a part of Oklahoma where a mining operation had uncovered a wealth of fossil fragments. He found a piece of rock with a jaw sticking out of it. Could there be more of the skull of this creature inside the r...

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Cacops fossil discovered in Oklahoma


On July 23, 2005, amateur paleontologist Tony Morris was looking for fossils with friends in a part of Oklahoma where a mining operation had uncovered a wealth of fossil fragments. He found a piece of rock with a jaw sticking out of it. Could there be more of the skull of this creature inside the rock?

Morris spent a month meticulously scraping away the rock and eventually revealed the skull of a small lizard-like creature. According to NewsOk, Morris then contacted University of Toronto paleontologist Robert Reisz about it.

Now, Reisz has concluded that the skull represents a new species, an amphibian related to the genus Cacops. This species of big-headed vertebrate looked like a cross between a frog and a lizard and lived about 280 million years ago, before the dinosaurs in the Permian period. Reisz is working on a paper on the find.
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About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

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