Museum Discosauriscus Lower Permian Amphibian Fossil

Prepared Matrix Free

Discosauriscus pulcherrimus

Amphibia, Seymouriamorpha, Discosauriscidae

Geological Time: Lower Permian

Size: Fossil is 153 mm overall with skull 37 mm by 42 mm wide; Matrix: 215 mm by 70 mm by 25 mm

Fossil Site: Boscovice Furrow, Letovice, Moravia, Czech Republic

Fossil Code: TUS19-14

Price: $5395.00

Description: This is a fine example of a rarely seen amphibian known as Discosauriscus. While also known as Letoveterpeton, that name has been considered a junior synonym. While once thought to be either a reptile or an amphibian, the fact that examples are now known from the gilled larval state places it firmly with the Amphibia. Given its affinities with the North American Seymouria, it may have had a similar reptile-like appearance as a mature adult. It is placed here in the Reptile section of the mall as amphibians are almost never offered.

What is most unusual about this specimen is that it has been painstakingly prepared free of matrix to show only the skeletal and soft tissue of the animal itself. This is a laborious process that involves mechanical removal of matrix, flowed by digestion with acid. The exposed elements are then protected and the process iterated numerous times before the finished specimen is embedded in a UV-resistant resin for display. Given there is an 80-90 percent reject rate during the process few finished specimens are ever offered. While expensive, when one considers some 250-300 man-hours over a period on 20 to 30 weeks the price is not that outlandish.

This particular example shows the skull and most of the articulated postcranial elements including many parts of the limbs. On the dorsal side of the skull you can make out the centrally-located “third eye”. Known more accurately as the pineal or parietal eye. It possessed a cornea, lens and a retina, and predominantly served a photoreceptive function most likely tied to the circadian rhythm. Many reptiles and amphibians still possess a rudimentary “third eye’ today. There is also quite a bit of skin adhering to the bones which probably helped keep the specimen in an articulated state. Note as well the teeth present on the right side of the head (seen on left as this is a ventral view). Overall the best example I was able to secure, similar to the one the preparatory recently placed with the Czech National Museum.

See other Discosauriscus fossil specimens here and here.

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