99-million-year-old fossils preserve gecko, chameleon characteristics
Some ancient lizards’ bad luck has become a gold mine of information for scientists.
Reptilian remains in roughly 99-million-year-old amber provide unusually detailed insight into the evolutionary history of lizards, researchers report March 4 in Science Advances.
The 12 chunks of amber, originally collected in Myanmar, contain parts of lizards that got trapped in tree resin during the Cretaceous period. Unlike stone, amber can fossilize small, delicate animals, as well as preserve soft tissues and organs.
Some of the amber specimens contain just a lizard leg; one holds most of a tongue. A translucent layer of scales traces where one lizard’s body once lay (left panel in the image above). In another fossil (middle panel), which contains skin and unusually long claws, sediment snuck into the lizard’s body during fossilization and created a mold of some bones. The