Book updates

Book Update 1: Salamanders are weird, guys!

What does almost two days of continuous writing due to someone? It makes them salamander-crazy. I’ve been working on the chapter discussing lissamphibians and I think I might go nuts! I must have read the description paper for Parrisia neocesariensis 16 times, if not more! Lissamphibians are a lot cooler then many give them credit for. At the Ellisdale site, a Marshalltown Formation storm deposit in New Jersey, so many incomplete fossil specimens of salamanders and frogs have been collected that it’s hard to keep track of them. We’re talking weird-looking salamanders extremely adapted for an aquatic lifestyle (these guys have serpentine bodies!!) that could grow up to a foot long and probably had an extremely wide gape. Then there are the frogs, and the indeterminate stuff, and so on, and so on. If you haven’t researched Mesozoic lissamphibians (which, I should mention, are rare in the fossil record), you should do so sometime as some of them are really interesting animals.

I am going to highlight Parrisia neocesariensis, which I believe to be one of the most fascinating animals known from the Cretaceous of New Jersey. The animal is classified as a batrachosauroidid salamander known from partial remains collected at Ellisdale (Denton Jr. & O’Neill, 1998). Batrachosauroidid salamanders are thought to be large, streamlined marine amphibians (the Florida Museum of Natural History’s website suggest a length of three feet or more for Batrachosauroides dissimulans, a species of batrachosauroidid). Long stalks on the occipital condyles indicate these salamanders had wide gapes. So we have a long, marine salamander that could open its mouth real wide present in the Late Cretaceous of New Jersey. Wow!