Species: Prosalirus bitis (Pro-sah-lee-rus bee-tis)
What it means: Leaping forward
Other species: none
Where I live: Arizona in the U.S.A.- The Kayenta formation
When to find me: The Early Jurassic period, about 196 million years ago.
My favorite food: Bugs! I’m an insectivore.
My neighborhood: The Kayenta formation used to be a tropical floodplain, a bit like African savannah today- but no grass or flowers. Ferns cover the open plains, dotted with islands of spiky cycad groves. Rivers crisscross the land with lush tree ferns, ginkgo trees, and conifers. Every year during the wet season the plains turn into a flooded marsh, but the hottest months bring no rain, and the rivers shrink until the plains are almost as dry as the great desert that lies to the north.
A few of my neighbors: Since I’m a tiny, froggish guy, I have to watch out for all sorts of predators like Dilophosaurus, Kayentavenator, Coelophysis (meat-eating dinosaurs), and crocodile cousins. In the sky, flying pterosaurs with long tails would love a snack. More friendly neighbors are Sarahsaurus (an early sauropod), and little Scutellosaurus (smaller armored dinosaur). I like to hang out on the riverbank with the turtles and keep an eye out for insects like beetles, dragonflies, an ancient cousin of the moth, and something called a snakefly.
- I am one of the very first frogs, and the first frog we know that could actually jump! Most of the tail my ancesters had is gone, and my legs are a bit shorter than modern frogs.
- The name Prosalirus comes from the Latin verb prosalire, which means “to jump forward.” Bitis is Latin for the verb “to go.”
Fossil Finds: Partial skeletons of at least two individuals, including various parts of the body, head, and legs.
Hecht, Jeff. “Jurassic frog leaps into the record books.” New Scientist, New Scientist Ltd., 16 sept. 1995. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14719952-500-jurassic-frog-leaps-into-the-record-books/
Farish A. Jenkins Jr. & Neil H. Shubin (1998) Prosalirus bitis and the anuran caudopelvic mechanism, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 18:3, 495-510, DOI: 10.1080/02724634.1998.10011077
Stocker Michelle R., Nesbitt Sterling J., Kligman Ben T., Paluh Daniel J., Marsh Adam D., Blackburn David C. and Parker William G.. 2019 The earliest equatorial record of frogs from the Late Triassic of Arizona. Biol. Lett. 15:20180922. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0922
(The Nature article is hidden behind a paywall. Luckily everything else I found was free and frequently quoted from the paper published in Nature.)