Rainforest frogs preserved in Amber surface after 100 mln yrs

NewsScienceTiny frog trapped in amber 99 million years ago gives up its secrets under a CT scan Joe Mellor

Millions of years ago, a juvenile frog was preparing to turn an unsuspecting beetle into a nice, juicy meal.

Recently, scientists have nakinulis on ancient frog, frozen in amber, which is able to help to make a real breakthrough in science.

These 99-million-year-old amber fossils provide the earliest direct evidence of frogs living in wet, tropical forests.

"It's nearly unheard of to get a fossil frog from this time period that is small, has preservation of small bones and is mostly 3D".

"Frogs are common animals to encounter in the wet tropical forests of today, and easily more than a third of the almost 7,000 species of frogs live in these wet forests", David C. Blackburn, a co-author of the new study and the associate curator of amphibians and reptiles at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told Gizmodo. Many animals and plants from the Cretaceous Period became trapped in tree sap and have been kept until today.

"These frogs were part of a tropical ecosystem that, in some ways, might not have been that different to what we find today - minus the dinosaurs", he said.

These fossils revealed that ancient frogs look a lot like modern frogs, showing that frogs haven't changed much over the last 100 million years. Because frogs are generally small and lightly built, they don't tend to preserve well after their demise. However, frogs live in just about every habitat on Earth, from scorching deserts to dense tropical rainforests to suburban back yards. However, an article published in the journal Scientific Reports, reports about a new record, writes naked-science.

The amber fossils were recovered from amber deposits in northern Myanmar, Southeast Asia, and have been dated to about 99 million years old.

Since frogs are such an established tropical species nowadays, it's easy to assume that frogs have always been a tropical species, but this the first evidence scientists have to back that up.

The frog's skull is clearly visible through the amber, as are its forelimbs and part of its backbone, as well as a partial hind limb and the unidentified beetle. There, they found four frogs preserved in amber, together with other resin drops containing other plants and creatures.

Despite everything they have learned from the minuscule remains, Blackburn said, there are still quite a few unanswered questions.

The more complete frog was a juvenile with soft bones that didn't fully fossilize, so the scientists are missing many aspects of the skeleton that might have given more insight into its behavior and ecology, such as the hip joints related to hopping and the inner ear bones.

The discovery of the four most ancient frogs captured in amber is also essential because these specimens represent, in fact, the oldest frogs fossils ever found. It seems extremely unlikely that there's only one. "There could be a lot more fossils coming".

The newly discovered species has been named Electrorana Limoae. A 3D-printed replica of Electrorana limoae can be found at the Florida Museum and additional models of the fossils can be seen at 3D data open-access repository Morphosource.

Dr Xing Lida has previously led a separate research team to discover an incredibly well-preserved ancient bird trapped in amber from 98.97 million years ago.

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