Small skull with big eyes and goofy grin uncovered by researchers. It may answer an evolutionary puzzle.

A 270 million-year-old amphibian with wide eyes and a cartoonish grin was discovered by Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History paleontologists. Its name is a tribute to a famous froggy.


The Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society published a report Thursday identifying Kermitops gratus, 


 the most recent ancient frog identified from a tiny fossilized skull that had been unstudied in the Smithsonian fossil collection for 40 years.


Kermitops lived in Texas' lower Clear Fork Formation during the Early Permian Epoch 298.9–272.3 million years ago, predating the dinosaurs. 


 The prehistoric amphibian's 2.5-centimeter skull has huge oval eye sockets and ,


a lopsided smile that researchers said resembled the Muppet face due to its somewhat crushed form.


The paper's authors said that the new amphibian species may explain how frogs and salamanders gained their unique traits. 


“And that really means that people need to keep studying these things because just looking at museum collections, like this fossil, can change our assumptions about living lineage evolution.”


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