Lizards locked in amber give glimpse of 'lost world'

Little is known about lizards from this era (Juan Daza et al / Science Advances)
Little is known about lizards from this era (Juan Daza et al / Science Advances)

In what's kind of like Jurassic Park come to life, scientists have described for the first time fully formed lizards preserved in amber from almost 99 million years ago.

A new study published in Science Advances today describes 12 specimens which are so perfectly preserved you can see the claws, scales of their skin and the tip of a tongue.

Lizards locked in amber give glimpse of 'lost world'

(Juan Daza et al / Science Advances)

The authors of the study say fossils from tropical forests are uncommon and little is known about the lizards which used to inhabit such environments many eons ago.

The specimens, from the Albian-Cenomanian forests in what is modern day Myanmar, shed light on the diverse and relatively unknown mid-Cretaceous paleotropics.

They're so detailed, scientists were able to identify two lizards related to modern-day chameleons and geckos, and reveal how some features including the sticky toe-pads evolved.

Lizards locked in amber give glimpse of 'lost world'

 

(Juan Daza et al / Science Advances) 

Others have no modern relatives and eventually died out.

"The fossilised amber provides a view into a lost world, revealing that the tropics of the Mid-Cretaceous contained a diverse lizard fauna," Dr Edward Stanley of the Florida Museum of Natural History told BBC.

Dr Stanley says one of the fossils looks like it might be the bridge between the standard lizard body and chameleons.

They specimens had belonged to a number of private collectors, but were made available for study.

Newshub.