Scientist and archeologists together have been able to shine a light into a lost world, finding frogs trapped in a sticky amber resin from over 99 million years ago. These frogs have been preserved in the resin and have most likely been there since the end of the Age of the Dinosaurs.
Four fossils were found and they allow us to truly understand how frogs and toads evolved in the rainforest. Amber is found in Myanmar and is generally seen as a treasure chest for paleontologists, it regularly contains skin, scales, feathers, furs or even whole creatures. This finding has been summarized as a “miracle” by Dr. Lida Xing. In fact, in China, lizards, frogs, and scorpions are actually called the three precious treasures of amber.
It also helps show that frogs did inhabit wet tropical forests prior to the mass extinction event. These fossils could be the earliest discovery of amphibians. Frogs have been around for 200 million years, now scientists hope to figure out since when they have been living in wet forests. Now paleontologists hope to uncover if it was always the way frogs lived or are this a recent phenomenon. The amber fossils found today indicate that it definitely was the case 100 million years ago, but could it be even further back?
These fossils help open up a part of the puzzle, showing that four specimens lived in the forests of Myanmar during the Cretaceous period. It probably means that frogs were the top insect predator in warm forest ecosystems that had freshwater lakes. It is very exciting as these frogs found in the fossils bear many similarities to common day frogs and toads such as the fire-bellied toads or the midwife toads.
The research team believes with every fossil they find they will be able to put together another piece of the evolutionary puzzle of amphibians.