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Mexican Researchers Find Complete Fossil of 23 Million-Year-Old Lizard In Amber Resin

By Sam Goodwin | Jul 09, 2013 03:32 AM EDT

Mexican Researchers Find Complete Fossil of 23 Million Years Old Lizard
Mexican Researchers Find Complete Fossil of 23 Million Years Old Lizard (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

A team of Mexican researchers found a complete fossil of a 23 million-year-old lizard  preserved in an amber deposit.

A 23 million years old lizard fossil encased in amber was found by researchers in the northern part of the south-eastern state of Chiapas. While this is not the first time scientists have discovered a fossil of an Anolis lizard; this fossil is speculated to represent a new species of the genus Anolis.

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Francisco Riquelme of the National Autonomous University of Mexico's Physics Institute told EFE that the lizard fossil measured approximately 4.5 centimeters by 1.3 centimeters and was "a complete and articulated animal that also preserves remains of soft tissue and skin".

The genus Anolis has approximately 400 species, according to the Reptile Database. These species are best known for their adaptive techniques. Most of these species can change their color to blend in with their surroundings.  Scientists were able to tell the age of the fossil by using the date of the amber deposit that the fossil was found entombed in.

Gerardo Carbot, director of Chiapas's Paleontology Museum said, "The fossil specimens found in the state date back a minimum of 23 million years because that is the age of the amber that is extracted from deposits in the municipalities of Simojovel, Huitihupan, El Bosque, Pueblo Nuevo, Palenque, Totolapa and Malpaso."

Amber, a tree resin often contains small remains of plants and animals but it is not common to find a complete fossil of vertebrates trapped in it. This is, however, not the oldest fossil found encased in amber. Last Augusts, scientists found a 230 million-year-old mite in northeastern Italy. Scientists analyzed 70,000 amber deposits until they found the one that contained the mite fossils, Science News reports.

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