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A frog that died mating, fossil buried 45 million years later, drowned during mating, study says

by Nares Lapoiya 2 months ago in Nature
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The world is so big that there is no wonder. Among the fossils discovered by human beings, frogs that were mating tens of millions of years ago were found to be fossilized, and when they were discovered by human beings, they still kept mating posture.

The world is so big that there is no wonder. Among the fossils discovered by human beings, frogs that were mating tens of millions of years ago were found to be fossilized, and when they were discovered by human beings, they still kept mating posture.

As a result, it was the most embarrassing thing in the world, with the people being studied watching. Let's take a look at this pair of "death mandarin ducks".

How are fossils formed?

Fossils are mainly the research objects of paleontologists. Through their understanding, they can obtain the history of animal and plant life during geological changes, which is very powerful evidence. As for the formation of fossils, there are many factors, not a single mode, mainly divided into five stages of development.

First, dead organisms need organic parts -- and hard parts, such as shells, bones, teeth, etc., so as to facilitate the formation of fossils, even very fragile, small organisms, as long as they have these hard parts, are easy to preserve.

Second, when an organism dies, it must have integrity. If it is a dead organism in fragment mode, it is difficult to form fossils. At least in some probability, it reduces the likelihood of fossil formation.

Third, when organisms die, they must be in conditions suitable for fossil formation. At the same time, it has to be buried underground, which is almost impossible on the surface, where there is no hard organic material, which can be easily broken down in the sun and wind.

Fourth, the remains of living organisms must undergo a long period of fossilization before they can be fossilized. At the same time, it should not be affected by the external environment. Some fossils may be destroyed due to changes in geological processes.

Fifth, in the process of consolidation and diagenesis, compaction and crystallization will affect the fossilization and preservation of fossils.

Those are the five basic conditions. In terms of the classification of fossils, they can be roughly divided into four categories, namely solid fossils, cast fossils, relic fossils and chemical fossils. Different categories are different.

Of course, the most valuable are probably chemical fossils, which are slightly more valuable for research. However, we can not say that this is absolutely true, and different levels of fossil research are different, so we will not specify it here.

A special fossil frog

According to a team led by scientists from University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland who published a fossil study in The Journal Proceedings of Palaeontology, there was a "frog mating death trap".

This place is a swamp in Germany. In this swampy area, not one, but hundreds of frogs died. In addition to frogs, crocodiles, toads and other creatures also appeared in the area.

Of course, the dead creatures researchers are probably most interested in studying are frogs, because the numbers are so large -- hundreds of frogs.

However, a study of two of the unique frogs found that their initial belief that the cause of the frogs' deaths might have been wrong and that oxygen depletion or a drying up lake could be to blame.

In the new study, however, the amphibian bones tell a different story.

In the frog study, these frogs were perfectly healthy when they died. And there was nothing unusual in the surrounding environment. There was no evidence that the frogs had come from other areas or died because the swamp dried up.

Of course, it's not a natural predator problem, because there's no evidence of predators or scavengers on the bones, so it's a very strange thing. So what's going on?

By studying the habits of frogs, researchers have found the answer. As we all know, frogs' habitat is mainly distributed in rivers, ponds and rice fields, and they mainly prey on insects, but also eat some field snails, snails, shrimp, fish and other species.

Of course, frogs are a very good creature for humans, because most of the insects they eat are agricultural pests. It has been estimated that a frog can kill up to 70 insects a day and 15,000 pests a year. So, we should protect frogs.

However, frogs prey on water and reproduce in the water. The reproductive characteristics of frogs are heterogeneous between male and female, water fertilization, belonging to oviparous.

So, as the researchers looked at the pair of fossils, the only plausible explanation for the frogs' death was that it happened during mating. This is a phenomenon sometimes seen in modern frogs, where females are drowned by males during their breeding season.

According to UCC paleontologist and study co-author Maria McNamara, the ancient frogs helped connect the dots to the current era.

And what's really interesting, McNamara said, is that fossil frogs from other places also show these characteristics, suggesting that mating behavior in modern frogs is really quite old, at least 45 million years old.

So, from the study of these two frogs, we also know the cause of the death of this group of hundreds of frogs, probably because they were drowning while they were mating. It really is the most embarrassing thing ever, 45 million years later, to be watched by humans.

In fact, there are many similar things. In 2011, one of the world's most unusual amber fossils was found in southern Australia, where scientists unearthed amber from two flies mating in the Oldway Basin.

And these two flies didn't rot, so they kept the mating state frozen for thousands of years, which seems incredible, because they were frozen forever when they mated, so they were locked in there. It was excavated tens of millions of years later.

Of course, this is a similar event. However, there are differences between amber and fossils, which we will not specify here. It's just that there are so many creatures frozen in time, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.


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Nares Lapoiya

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