These newfound frogs have been trapped in amber for 99 million years | Science News

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These newfound frogs have been trapped in amber for 99 million years

Bits of bugs and plants in the ancient goo provide a glimpse of the amphibians’ lives

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9:00am, June 14, 2018
amber

ARRESTED IN AMBER  Chunks of amber contain fossils of 99-million-year-old frogs that were roughly the size of a postage stamp. One chunk (left) holds a recognizably froggy leg and body. Another specimen (right) contains a juvenile with a partial skull.

About 99 million years ago, tiny frogs hopped through a wet, tropical forest — and an unlucky few ran afoul of some tree sap. Four newly described frog fossils, preserved in amber, offer the earliest direct evidence of ancient frogs living in a humid tropical clime — just as many modern amphibians do.

None of the frog fossils is complete, making it difficult to place the frogs within their family tree: One has a partial skull and another a froggy outline, although CT scanning revealed no remaining skeletal material inside the impression. So researchers dubbed all four fossils Electrorana limoae (electrum for “amber” and rana for “frog”) in a study published June 14 in Scientific Reports. Anatomy-wise, the ancient frogs most resemble a modern group that includes fire-bellied toads.

The fossil record contains relatively few frogs, despite

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