Scientists have discovered the oldest evidence of a “slingshot” tongue in amphibians fossils 99 million years old.
The prehistoric armored creatures, known as Albanerpetontids, were potential predators that snatched their prey by firing a projectile from their “ballistic tongues”.
Although they have lizard-like claws, scales, and tails, the analysis indicates this Panrapeptides The team said they are amphibians, not reptiles.
They believe the results, published in the journal Science, redefine how young animals feed. The panerbitontides were previously thought to be underground burrows.
Edward Stanley, co-author of the study and director of the Digital Discovery and Publishing Laboratory for the Florida Museum of Natural History, said, “This discovery adds a very impressive piece to the puzzle of this mysterious group of strange little animals. Knowing that they have this ballistic tongue gives us a whole new understanding of this entire lineage.” .
Modern amphibians are represented by three distinct subspecies: frogs, salamanders and caecilians without limbs. Even two million years ago, the researchers said, there was a fourth lineage, the panrapeptides, whose lineage dates back at least 165 million years.
However, Susan Evans, another co-author of the study and professor of morphology and vertebrate paleontology at University College London, said the breed may be much older, and may have originated more than 250 million years ago.
She said, “If the oldest albanerpeptides also contain ballistic tongues, then the feature has been around for longer than the first chameleon, which is likely to date back 120 million years.”
Fossils Of the small creatures that were discovered in Myanmar, trapped in amber, and a sample was found in a “mint condition” gave researchers an opportunity for a detailed examination.
The researchers said the fossil represented a new type of panerbitontide Yaksha Beretti, Which was about 5 cm long without the tail.
“We visualize this as a plump little thing running down the leaf litter, well hidden, but sometimes it comes out for a fly, throws its tongue and catches it,” Evans said.
Another fossil, a minor juvenile misidentified as a chameleon due to its “bewildering properties”, also had features similar to those of the pannierbitantids – such as claws, scales, massive eye niches, and projected tongue.
Evans said the detection of ejected tongues of Albanoreptide helped explain some of its “weird and wonderful” characteristics, such as its unusual jaw and neck joints and large forward-looking eyes, a common feature of predators.
She added that the animals may breathe entirely from their skin, as some salamanders have done.
Despite the results, the researchers said, how the banarpeptides were synthesized in the amphibian family tree remained a mystery.
“In theory, panireptontids could give us an idea of what the ancestors of modern amphibians looked like,” Evans said. “Unfortunately, they’re so specialized and so weird in their own way that they don’t help us much.”