Sandstone Wall

Scientists at the Australian Museum in Sydney and University of New South Wales (UNSW) have studied the fossil of a giant salamander found embedded in a sandstone block from a quarry on the News South Wales Central Coast region.  The block of sandstone was part of a consignment of rocks delivered to a local farmer who was building a garden wall.  Fortunately the fossil was recognised and eventually donated to the Australian Museum. 

The fossil is dated as 240 million years old and has been named Arenaerpeton supinatus, meaning “supine sand creeper”. It was given this name because it was lying on its back.  The salamander is almost complete with the bones articulated and surrounded by outlines of skin.  Lachlan Hart, a palaeontologist at the museum commented: “We don’t often find skeletons with the head and body still attached, and the soft tissue preservation is an even rarer occurrence.” 

The researchers estimate the creature was 1.2 metres long and closely resembled living Chinese giant salamanders.

References: ABC News 10 August 2023; UNSW Media 9 August 2023; Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology 3 August 2023, doi: 10.1080/02724634.2023.2232829

Editorial Comment:  At 1.2 metres long Arenaerpeton supinatus is not the largest salamander that ever lived. The Giant Chinese Salamander can grow to 1.8m (6ft), but it is a rarity – nearly all other living salamanders are less than 15cm (6in)long.  The large size of the A. supinatus fossil shows the general trend in salamander size is from large to small.

Its similarity to the living Giant Chinese Salamander shows that salamanders have multiplied after their kind ever since this fossil was buried.  Furthermore, for it to have been buried intact on its back quickly enough for soft tissue outlines to be preserved indicates it was swept up in a mass of sediment, flipped upside down and buried quickly.

Overall, this fossil is a good reminder of the Biblical history of living things.  Salamanders were created according to their kinds in the original very good world, which has the lush moist environment needed to sustain large amphibians.  During Noah’s Flood many large creatures were swept up is masses of flowing sediment and rapidly buried.  After the Flood the environment became harsher and many large animals died out, or were hunted out, leaving only small variants to become the norm, as we now see with today’s tiny salamanders.

Creation Research News 31 August 2023

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