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Famous Disney Star Honored After Scientists Make a Surprising Discovery

smithsonian institute and muppet eyes
Credit: The Smithsonian/Canva

A famous Disney star has been honored following a surprising discovery made by paleontologists at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

smithsonian institute

Credit: Smithsonian Institution

On Thursday, scientists with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History announced the surprising discovery of a prehistoric species of amphibian. The species, according to paleontologists, could be the ancestor of more modern species of amphibians.

To celebrate their discovery, the scientists bestowed upon the newly-found species the name of one of Disney’s most beloved characters, who just happens to be amphibious himself. We’re talking, of course, about one of the late Jim Henson’s most famous characters, Kermit the Frog.

kermit the frog

Credit: Disney/Muppets

The discovery by scientists was that of the fossilized skull of an amphibian that is believed to be 270 million years old. Thus, to honor the famous Muppet, researchers have endearingly dubbed the newly-discovered species represented by the skull Kermitops gratus.

“Using the name Kermit has significant implications for how we can bridge the science that is done by paleontologists in museums to the general public,” Calvin So, a doctoral student at the George Washington University and research writer, said in a press release. “Because this animal is a distant relative of today’s amphibians, and Kermit is a modern-day amphibian icon, it was the perfect name for it.”

What the Skull Could Tell Us About the Newly-Found Species

According to scientists, the fossil can shed new light on the ways in which modern amphibians have developed. The fossil had reportedly sat in the Smithsonian’s collection for almost 40 years without being studied or identified.

In a paper that was published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, paleontologists identified the small skull, which measures only about 1.2 inches long, as the likely precursor to frogs, salamanders, and caecilians that we see today.

kermitopus gratus fossil

Credit: The Smithsonian

And, yee-haw! Researchers believe that Kermitops gratus once lived in the area of North America that is now the state of Texas, and their studies lead them to also believe that the prehistoric amphibian likely lived between 272 million and 299 million years ago, during the time period known as the early Permian Epoch period.

Despite the species being named after a frog, scientists say that Kermitops gratus had a body that was more similar in appearance to that of a salamander and that the amphibian probably measured only six to seven inches long.

They also believed Kermitops, despite being named after a frog, had a body more similar to a salamander, probably measuring between six to seven inches long.

kermit the frog and family

Credit: Disney/The Muppets

Regardless of the prehistoric amphibian’s appearance, we have to admit that the fact that the species has been named after Kermit the Frog makes us all the more interested in learning more about the species indeed.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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