99-million-year-old fossilized lizard found in Asia, may be ‘missing link’ to ‘lost world’

Lizards preserved in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. © advances.sciencemag.org
A fossilized lizard preserved in amber and found in Southeast Asia is 99 million years old scientists have determined. That makes it the oldest ever specimen of its kind and could hold the key to a ‘lost ecosystem’.

The fossil is about 75 million years older than the previous oldest lizard discovered, researchers at Florida Museum of Natural History said.

"It was incredibly exciting to see these animals for the first time. It was exciting and startling, actually, how well they were preserved," researcher Edward Stanley said, as quoted by Reuters.

He added that the reptile’s entire body, including its eyes and scales, is preserved in “superb detail.” Usually, reptiles’ bodies decay quickly.

"We can pretty much see how the animals looked when they were alive," Professor Juan Diego Daza, who led the research, said.

The lizard is thought to have been an infant reptile, living in a tropical forest in territory that is now Myanmar, Southeast Asia.

However, its journey ended when it became trapped in sticky resin.

Other animals trapped in the amber, are a gecko and an arctic lizard, although those are not as ancient as the 99-million-year-old reptile.

What might this amazing discovery lead to?

It could help us learn more about the "lost ecosystem, the lost world" the creatures lived in. Researchers could also find out more about the animals’ modern relatives.

"It's kind of a missing link," the professor said, as cited by Reuters.

The research was published on Friday in Science Advances journal.