The discovery is an important aspect of history.
The discovery of Tutusius umlambo and Umzantsia amazana in the coastal Eastern Cape province, near polar latitudes, suggests that four-limbed animals were more widespread in their early stages of evolution, contrary to widespread views that the ancestors of all vertebrates - the amphibious, aquatic tetrapods that first colonised the land - evolved in warm tropical environments.
The remains were discovered in Africa, Scientists from Rhodes University and Uppsala University have described two new species of four-legged animals that lived on Earth about 360 million years ago, shortly after the planet appeared the representatives of the superclass, writes the Chronicle.info with reference to the Telegraph.
"What this tells us is that tetrapods lived all over the world, and there is no particular reason to think they arose in the tropics", said Gess.
Tetrapods were land pioneers that evolved from lobe-finned fishes during the Devonian period, which began 400-million years ago. The research was supported by the South African DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences, based at the University of the Witwatersrand and the Millennium Trust.
"Alive, they would have resembled a cross between a crocodile and a fish, with a crocodile-like head, stubby legs and a tail with a fish-like fin", Gess explained, adding that their evolution was the result of an adaptation of living in shallow lakes and lagoons.
Tutusius and Umzantsia though are now the first tetrapod fossils not only found outside of the tropics in Gondwana but within Antarctic circle.
All but two of them came from Laurasia.
Only one Devonian tetrapod jaw came from Gondwana - the supercontinent which incorporated present day Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica and India. Because Australia was the northernmost part of Gondwana, extending into the tropics, an assumption developed that tetrapods evolved in the tropics, most likely in Laurussia.
Previously drawn conclusions stated that these amphibians moved out from the water on to the land through tropical regions until finally ending in Laurussia.
Together with Per Ahlberg, the coauthor of the study, the whole team concluded that while tetrapods occurred in the world by the Late Devonian period, their evolution and migration to land could also have happened elsewhere in the world.
"Whereas all previously found Devonian tetrapods came from localities which were in tropical regions during the Devonian, these specimens lived within the Antarctic circle", said Robert Gess, the lead author of the study. Tutusis is named in honour of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, while Umzantsia reflects its South African heritage.
"It is uniquely expansive for any one country and many internationally significant fossil discoveries have been made in our country and are stored in South African museum collections", she said. This includes the Cradle of Humankind, the world's richest early hominin site and is home to around 40 percent of the world's known human-ancestor fossils.