Stunning discovery: First-ever Salamander found in Caribbean, encased in amber

Stunning discovery: First-ever Salamander found in Caribbean, encased in amber

It’s being hailed as the discovery of the first-ever salamander, encased in a block of golden amber, and scientists think it’s up to 30 million years old. Scientists at Oregon State University and the University of California at Berkeley believe they have found the first salamander fossil encased in amber, a now-extinct species that confirms […]

It’s being hailed as the discovery of the first-ever salamander, encased in a block of golden amber, and scientists think it’s up to 30 million years old.

Scientists at Oregon State University and the University of California at Berkeley believe they have found the first salamander fossil encased in amber, a now-extinct species that confirms the presence of salamanders at one point in the Caribbean, even though they don’t live there now, according to a Discovery News report.

The specimen is dating at about 20 to 30 million years old, and it indicates that this specimen, which was merely a baby, probably had gotten its leg bitten off and then got stuck in a resin deposit to be frozen in place for so many years.

It was a truly stunning find for the scientists, who apparently don’t see many salamander fossils at all, and certainly never found one preserved within amber. This finding in the Dominican Republic was particularly unexpected, because no salamander currently live there.

The researchers named the species Palaeoplethodon hispaniolae, and published their findings in the journal Paleodiversity. Its family, Plethodontidae, is today found in North America, and particularly up in the Appalachian Mountains. But this salamander was somewhat different: it doesn’t have toes on its legs, but rather a webbing that would not have made it suited for tree living, unlike many species that live today. Therefore, this species was probably suited for smaller tress or maybe tropical plants.

What caused this salamander to disappear from the Earth, and how did it even get on the island to begin with? Scientists still have yet to answer that question and more research may be needed. It could have been a climatic event, or it could have been a predator that wiped them out.

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