The story of this week’s Specimen of the Week begins in 1862, in Prague, with the establishment of a small business offering teaching materials to aid in the study of natural sciences. The business grew, and by the late 1880’s, its proprietor Václav Frič was procuring zoological specimens from around the world (1). He accomplished this through contacting traveller-collectors such as fellow Czech Enrique Stanko Vraz – the man who collected this week’s highlighted specimens…
Try to imagine life 310 million years ago. It is the Carboniferous period – a time when the Earth experienced its highest levels of atmospheric oxygen leading to the growth of vast forests which would eventually be laid down and become the coal beds characteristic of this period.
Primitive amphibians were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates including the Temnospondyls which were mostly semi-aquatic and typically larger than most modern amphibians. Superificially, most resembled crocodiles with broad, flat heads and had scales, claws and bony body plates.
This week’s Specimen of the Week celebrates these early amphibians with a lovely example cast from the famous fossil gas-coal of the Czech Republic… (more…)