Monday 7 March 2016

99-million year old lizards trapped in amber give us a glimpse into a ‘lost world’

MARCH 5, 2016

by Chuck Bednar

These tiny ancient lizards found well-preserved in amber provide a glance at what life would have been like nearly 100 million years ago, researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and Sam Houston State University explained in a newly-published study.

Writing in the latest edition of the journal Science Advances, lead author and SHSU professor Juan Diego Daza and his colleagues revealed that they discovered 12 of the pint-sized reptiles entombed in amber within a private collection of stones donated to the American Museum of Natural History by their previous owner.

According to, the lizards were caught in the resin of ancient coniferous trees some 99 million years ago, where they have remained until present day. Originally discovered several decades ago in the mines of Burma, many of the creatures remain in exceptional shape, the study authors noted, with their claws, bones, scales and toe pads all still intact.

 “The fossilized amber provides a view into a lost world, revealing that the tropics of the Mid-Cretaceous contained a diverse lizard fauna,” co-author Dr Edward Stanley, a researcher at the museum, told BBC News. He and his fellow researchers added that they plan to use CT scan to “digitally dissect” the lizards without damaging the amber.

Chameleon ‘missing link’ among the reptiles discovered
Two of the fossils are relatives of modern-day geckos and chameleons, the British news outlet said, and will help provide insight into what the Daza and Stanley are calling a “lost world” by revealing how reptilian features such as adhesive toe-pads originally evolved.

Others died out completely and have no modern-day equivalent, they added, and one lizard is what appears to be a transitional form between a “traditional” lizard and a chameleon, Stanley told BBC News. This so-called “missing link” is “roughly 80 million years older than the next oldest chameleon fossil,” he added, and shows that the chameleon’s projectile tongue evolved early on in its history – before it evolved fused toes to climb on branches.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails