Several fossils of a 278 million-year-old fanged eel and other ancient aquatic carnivores that lived during the Pangaea were recently unearthed by an international group of researchers in Brazil.
Before the discovery of these amphibian and reptile fossils, little was known about what animals existed and thrived in the super-continent's southern tropics, researchers said.
Scientists from The Field Museum explained that the discovery of new amphibian species and a reptile that lived in Northeastern Brazil could describe how these pre-historic animals moved and lived among the super-continent. The team worked with other experts from all over the world.
Ken Angielczyk, a Field Museum scientist and one of the researchers of the study, said that most of the current information they have on these animals came from regions in Western Europe and North America. The newly-discovered data could show the similarities and differences among animals that lived near the equator, he said.
"Exploration in understudied areas, such as northeastern Brazil, gives us a snapshot of life elsewhere that we can use for comparisons," said Angielczyk.
The fanged eel "Timonya annae" and the "Procuhy nazarienis," meaning "fire frog," are both newly-discovered fully aquatic amphibian species from the Permian period, and they are a cross between a salamander and a frog.
The team also found the fossils of an old lizard-like terrestrial reptile named Captorhinus aguti. Several fossils of this species had been previously excavated in North America.
In addition to these fossils, the group also found the skull and body of a large-headed amphibian whose size was similar to that of a dog. This animal's later ancestors may have been found in South Africa, researchers said.
Martha Richter from the National History Museum in London said they now know that these animals' distant relatives lived in a vast lake system in the tropics of Pangaea. Because of the discovery, they can find out more about these species' abundance, palaeobiology, and how far away they were spread out from the equator.
Angielczyk added that the fossils could help them understand which animals dispersed into different areas as the ice age was nearing its end in the southern continents. Amphibians and reptiles were benefitting from the changing environmental conditions, he said.
The group's findings are issued in the journal Nature Communications.