An ‘ancient death trap’ has preserved hundreds of fossilized frogs that drowned during sex

An ‘ancient death trap’ has preserved hundreds of fossilized frogs that drowned during sex

Researchers suspect that the ancient male frogs pushed the 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 have pondered a horrific mystery: What killed hundreds of fossilized frogs found in an ancient “death trap” in Germany dating millions of years ago? These frogs appeared to be perfectly 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 a former mining site in the Geiseltal valley in the Saxony-Anhalt region of central Germany. The specimens were originally collected between the 1930s and 1950s, along with around 50,000 other fossils. About half of them were vertebrates, and included horse ancestors, large crocodiles, giant snakes and land birds, researchers said in a statement (opens in a new tab).

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