Lush tropical forests and swamps covered the land in the Late Carboniferous Period. Giant insects buzzed around, and the newly evolved amphibians chased after them (see previous page). Some were as big as alligators, but tiny Amphibamus was the size of a newt. It had many of the features of modern frogs and salamanders and may have been their ancestor.
■ When: 300 million years ago (Late Carboniferous)
■ Fossil location: USA
■ Habitat: Swamps of N. America and western Europe
■ Length: 6 in (15 cm)
■ Diet: Probably insects
Amphibamus had large eyes for spotting prey. Perhaps it hunted by standing still and snatching insects that came close, as frogs do. Like most modern amphibians, it may have had to return to water to breed and lay eggs.
Amphibamus fossils come from a site that was a river delta in the Carboniferous Period. Perhaps the animal lived in creeks or swamps near the river. Like most amphibians it might have been able to breathe through its moist skin, but it would have had to stay in damp places so its skin didn’t dry out.
Salamanders are related to frogs but have long, slender bodies. They live in damp places and can breathe through their moist skin. Some species lay their eggs in water, the eggs hatching out into tadpoles that breathe through gills. Others species breed entirely on land.