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Dublin: 10°C Thursday 11 August 2022

325-million-year-old amphibian fossil discovered in Co Clare

The 10mm-long bones are believed to come from a small amphibian that would have been an ancestor to the first lizards.

PastedImage-56168 Artist’s interpretation of Carboniferous tetrapod from Scotland. Inset: Fossil amphibian bone from Co Clare. Source: National Museums Scotland/Clare County Council

THE FOSSILISED BONES of a tiny amphibian-like creature, dating back 325 million years, have been discovered in Co Clare. 

The 10mm-long bones are believed to come from a leg and possibly a hip bone of a small amphibian that would have been an ancestor to the first lizards.

The discovery, published in the Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, was made by Dr Eamon Doyle a geologist for the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark and fossil vertebrate researcher Aodhán Ó Gogáin of Trinity College Dublin. 

The fossil, which discovered in a shale formation, is “the oldest stratigraphically well-constrained tetrapod skeletal fossil material described from Ireland”, according to the article. 

The amphibian lived during a geological time called the Carboniferous Period which lasted from 360 to 299 million years ago and is thought to have lived along a swampy coastline, either in an estuary or along rivers further inland.

Researchers believe it may have been washed out to sea during a storm or flood with the bones eventually settling onto the muddy seafloor where they were buried and turned to fossils.

“The fact that amphibian bones are rare finds in rocks of this age highlights the importance of Dr Doyle’s discovery,” Clare County Council said. 

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Adam Daly

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