A group of researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Jaume Almera Institute of Earth Sciences and the Institut Català de Paleontología Miquel Crusafont, have discovered several traces of tetrapod animals that represent the oldest fossil footprints found so far in Catalonia.
According to the first investigations, they correspond to different kinds of primitive reptiles and amphibians and among them, traces of synapsids have been discovered, an animal group that would give way to mammals in evolution.
The area where the footprints were found may have been the habitat of different groups of tetrapods during the Permian period. These animals were the first vertebrates to set foot on dry land, managing to develop lungs to be able to capture oxygen from the atmosphere as well as turn their fins into legs, in a process that lasted many centuries.
The researchers also discovered ichnites of different sizes of temnospondyls, the ancestors of today's amphibians. In the words of Eudald Mujal, a researcher at the Department of Geology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, this group of animals had a way of life similar to that of salamanders, some hunting as predators and others sucking food from the aquatic environment.
It has been confirmed that pelycosaur footprints have been discovered, a group of synapsids of which it is said that they could measure up to four meters in length and where they had a longitudinal sail throughout their column, but it is not known for sure what their function was.
Researchers remind us that during the Permian period, all land masses were united into a single super continent known as Pangea, which was located approximately where Ecuador is today and that extended towards the poles.
The Permian dates back about 300 million years and ended about 250 million years ago to give way to the Triassic, which lasted until about 200 million years ago, at which time the dinosaurs began to appear and was one of the most important parts of history since it was the moment when the great extinction occurred, the largest recorded in the Land where 90% of the species disappeared, being higher than the extinction of the end of the Cretaceous period.
Without a doubt, this is a discovery of great importance that can continue to reveal very interesting information about life in this part of the world millions of years ago.
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