University of Cork (UCC) paleontologists have discovered why hundreds of frogs died in an ancient swamp 45 million years ago: It happened during mating season.

The death march in the Geiseltal region of central Germany killed more than 50,000 ancient animals, including birds, horses, bats, fish, and hundreds of frogs. Because of its unique geographical features and thousands of fossils, the former Geiseltal coal mine in Saxony-Anhalt is considered a valuable scientific site, providing a unique window on how the Earth’s plants and animals evolved over millions of years.

Nearly 50 million years ago, the Earth was warm in the Middle Ages. Geiseltal was a tropical rain forest whose inhabitants included the ancestors of horses, giant crocodiles, large snakes, lizards, land birds, and an abundance of anurans, frogs, and frogs.

Previous research has suggested that Geiseltal frogs die during the melting of lakes and depletion of water in the water. But the cause of these creatures has long been unknown — until now.

By studying frog bones, the UCC team could narrow down the options. “In our view, frogs were healthy when they died, and bones do not show any signs of predators or scavengers — there is no evidence that they were washed in water during floods or that they died because the swamp dried up. ‘

This situation is common in frogs today. “Female frogs are at greater risk of drowning as they are usually immersed by one or more males — this is often the case in mammals during a short period of explosive breeding,” says lead author Professor Maria McNamara. “Interestingly, frogs from other sites also reflect these traits, suggesting that modern frog behavior is very old and has been at least 45 million years old.”

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