Burmese Amber Preserves 99-Million-Year-Old Tropical Frogs | Paleontology

James Marshall
June 17, 2018

Together with the Lida Ching from the University of Geosciences in China Blackburn analyzed four amber fossils discovered in the field in the Northern part of Myanmar, the former Burma.

The fossils included one skeleton of a frog that was complete enough for scientists to identify it as a new species, named Electrorana limoae, the study said.

An ancient frog species which lived at the time of dinosaurs has been discovered.

"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. The discovery of Electrorana and the other fossils, the first frogs to be recovered from these deposits, help add to our understanding of frogs in the Cretaceous Period, showing they have inhabited wet, tropical forests for at least 99 million years.

Even though frogs have been around for 200 million years the oldest fossil that was found in the Dominican Republic dates back 40 million years. However, frogs live in just about every habitat on Earth, from scorching deserts to dense tropical rainforests to suburban back yards. The other amber fossils contain two hands and an imprint of a frog that likely decayed inside the resin. This is, in fact, the oldest frog we've ever found in a tropical environment - and the oldest frog trapped in amber, for that matter.

More than a third of the 7,000-odd living species of frogs and toads are found in rain forests around the world.

"Lizards and frogs in amber are certainly not unheard of, but ones this old are exceptional", says Marc Jones, an expert on fossil frogs based at the Natural History Museum in London, U.K. But the fossil record for amphibians from these kinds of wet, tropical environments has been nearly nonexistent, leaving paleontologists with few clues to their early evolution. Frogs are thought to be at least as old as 200 million years old, but it's almost impossible to learn much about the early amphibians - due to their small size and biology, they don't fossilize easily and most of the extinct frog remains are long gone.

The piece of amber contains the frog's head, forelimbs, part of its spine, and part of one of its hindlimbs, as well as an unidentified beetle. "There could be a lot more fossils coming", he explained.

This discovery was made during excavations on the territory of Asia in Myanmar. For instance, the ribs and a bone in the cartilaginous plate that supports the tongue suggest Electrorana l. closely resembled some of the species alive today, such as fire-bellied toads and midwife toads. Features such as wrist bones, the pelvis, hip bones, the inner ear, the top of the backbone. That would allow scientists to ask more sophisticated questions about the way these ancient frogs lived and evolved.

"We don't have a lot of single-species frog communities in forests". It seems extremely unlikely that there's only one. The findings were published Thursday in Nature's Scientific Reports.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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