Mid-Cretaceous amber fossils illuminate the past diversity of tropical lizards
Juan D. Daza1,*, Edward L. Stanley2,3, Philipp Wagner4, Aaron M. Bauer5 and David A. Grimaldi6
- Author Affiliations
1Department of Biological Sciences, Sam Houston State University, 1900 Avenue I, Lee Drain Building Suite 300, Huntsville, TX 77341, USA.
2Department of Herpetology, Florida Museum of Natural History, 3215 Hull Road, Gainesville, FL 31611, USA.
3Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA.
4Zoologische Staatssammlung München, Münchhausenstraße 21, 81247 Munich, Germany.
5Department of Biology, Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085, USA.
6Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024–5192, USA.
↵*Corresponding author. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Science Advances 04 Mar 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 3, e1501080 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501080
Modern tropical forests harbor an enormous diversity of squamates, but fossilization in such environments is uncommon and little is known about tropical lizard assemblages of the Mesozoic. We report the oldest lizard assemblage preserved in amber, providing insight into the poorly preserved but potentially diverse mid-Cretaceous paleotropics. Twelve specimens from the Albian-Cenomanian boundary of Myanmar (99 Ma) preserve fine details of soft tissue and osteology, and high-resolution x-ray computed tomography permits detailed comparisons to extant and extinct lizards. The extraordinary preservation allows several specimens to be confidently assigned to groups including stem Gekkota and stem Chamaleonidae. Other taxa are assignable to crown clades on the basis of similar traits. The detailed preservation of osteological and soft tissue characters in these specimens may facilitate their precise phylogenetic placement, making them useful calibration points for molecular divergence time estimates and potential keys for resolving conflicts in higher-order squamate relationships.
Keywords Mesozoic period fossils lizards paleobiology
Copyright © 2016, The Authors
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.
FREE PDF GRATIS: Science Advances