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A new giant amphibian from the Triassic of Bielefeld

April 26, 2016

Dr. Gesine Steiner

The skull of a nearly 2 meter long giant amphibian has been stored in the collection of the Museum of Natural History in Bielefeld since more than 40 years. It lived about 225 million year ago in rivers and swamps of the Bielefeld region even before the dinosaurs started to rule the earth. Although the specimen became renowned locally in Bielefeld and surrounding areas, it had so far never been described scientifically. A recent publication by the palaeontologists Florian Witzmann, Sven Sachs und Christian Nyhuis in the scientific journal “Fossil Record” describes the skull for the first time, and the authors came to the surprising result that the skull represents a new species. It is named Cyclotosaurus buechneri, in honor of Dr. Martin Büchner, former director of the Museum of Natural History in Bielefeld who discovered the specimen and has a life-long record of outstanding contributions to the museum’s geological collection and the popularization of geosciences in the Bielefeld region. The skull from Bielefeld belongs to a group of superficially crocodile-like amphibians called cyclotosaurs, and it is the only unequivocal evidence of a member of this group in northern Germany.



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