Amphibians and Chroniosuchians

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Almost all extant amphibians are small vertebrates, which need water for reproduction. The Triassic waters were inhabited by a great variety of Temnospondylia. This extinct amphibian clade owes its name to the bipartite structure of their vertebrae. Only a few temnospondyls were adapted to saltwater, whereas most genera inhabited freshwater in rivers and lakes. For this reason, temnospondyl remains are rare in the Muschelkalk but rather common in the Lower Keuper. This applies especially to the Lettenkeuper in the Southwest German countries of Hohenlohe, Schwäbisch Hall, and Limpurg where diverse temnospondyl faunas have been discovered. The Muschelkalk Museum Ingelfingen holds one of the best collections of Lettenkeuper Temnospondylia, among them the huge Mastodonsaurus giganteus, its smaller relatives Kupferzellia, Callistomordax, Trematolestes, and four genera of the bizarre plagiosaurs with transversely broadened skulls. Moreover, osteoderms and the strange globular vertebrae of Chroniosuchia have been found. These animals resembling crocodiles represent a side branch of the amniote lineage and are hence closer related to the reptile and mammal lineages. The most impressive finds in the Lettenkeuper Gallery have been excavated, recovered, and prepared by the Crailsheim fossil collector Werner Kugler.