Nature is the greatest craftsman of all and recent findings come to prove this as the Caribbean seas reveal amber-encased salamander fossil. The discovery sheds additional light on the evolution of this species, which was never found in this area before.
According to the scientists who have excavated the fossil, the small salamander was just a baby when its feet got trapped in the Amber. As sad as it may seem, there is also a good part to all this as the baby salamander has been immortalized forever. In addition, it is now a strong evidence that reptiles existed in these parts of America, as well.
Based on the investigation that researchers have made, the salamander belonged to a species of reptiles that populated the region approximately 40-60 million years ago. They were traceable in the regions that we now know as Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, scientists have added.
Although additional evidence must be provided in order to explain how this species of salamander moved to the Caribbean Sea, researchers have already found possible explanations. In their opinion, the cold-blooded creatures crossed the Caribbean Sea on floating debris or when the sea levels were too low to drown them.
George Poinar, Jr., a professor at the College of Science told the press that the specimen was found in an amber mine in the Dominican Republic. The analyses that experts have made revealed that the salamander is closely related to the species Plethodontidae hispaniolae, which is now very common in North America.
However, certain differences between the two species still existed. Poinar revealed that the fossil had distinct front and back legs. Unlike the North American exemplars we know today, the fossilized salamander did not have distinct toes, meaning it used to live in a different environment than modern species.
The amber-encased salamander was not a good climber, judging from the form of its feet, researchers have concluded. This means, it probably lived in small trees as the taller ones were inaccessible to it. The food preferences of the reptile remain unknown for the moment, but scientists are convinced that the reptile took its food from tropical flowering plants.
Poinar concluded by saying that he was extremely surprised to see the salamander encased in amber. His excitement grew even bigger considering that no other salamander fossils have been found before, particularly in the Caribbean Sea.
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