'Ancient death trap' preserved hundreds of fossilized frogs that drowned during sex

‘Ancient death trap’ preserved hundreds of fossilized frogs that drowned during sex

Researchers suspect that ancient male frogs pushed females underwater while trying to mount them. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

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It was a cold case with hundreds of victims. For decades, scientists puzzled over a gruesome mystery: What killed hundreds of fossilized frogs found at an ancient “death trap” in Germany dating to millions of years ago? These frogs seemed to be completely healthy when they died, but researchers recently determined that the amphibians may have drowned during aggressive underwater sex. 

For the new study, scientists analyzed the remains of 168 frogs found at an old mining site in the Geiseltal valley, in central Germany’s Saxony-Anhalt region. The specimens were originally collected between the 1930s and 1950s, along with around 50,000 other fossils. Around half of those were vertebrates, and included horse ancestors, large crocodiles, giant snakes and ground-dwelling birds, researchers said in a statement (opens in new tab).

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