More than 20 million years ago, a salamander had a very bad day in what is today the Dominican Republic.
A salamander fossil found preserved in amber is discovered in the Dominican Republic which is the first-ever fossil of its kind, that also hints that salamanders once lived in the Caribbean region, where they now totally extinct.
But its misfortune has sparked a knowledge triple for scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) and the University of California at Berkeley.
The crime scene 20 million years ago paints a gloomy picture for the poor salamander in what is called the Dominican Republic now, when it was just a baby then. It got into a kind of fight and lost its leg that was bitten off by a predator just before it managed to escape. But then it fell into a resin deposit, became a fossil and remained forever in amber.
The scientists were stunned by their find. George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus in the OSU College of Science, said in a press release that there are very few types of salamander fossils and till date none have ever found a salamander entombed in amber. “And finding it in Dominican amber was especially unexpected, because today no salamanders, even living ones, have ever been found in that region.” he added.
The researchers have named the creature Palaeoplethodon hispaniolae, who have just published their findings about the new salamander in the magazine ‘Paleodiversity’. The family in which the salamander belonged, the Plethodontidae, is common in North America, especially in the Appalachian Mountain region. But this newly discovered fossilized salamander did not have distinguishing back- or front-leg toes.
But, it had a kind of webbing that could have made it not so awful climber, when compared to some species today, as per the scientists. They say that the due to this, salamander might have lived on smaller trees or on tropical flowering plants. The team found the fossil in an amber mine in a mountains existing between Puerto Plata and Santiago.