World's oldest frog trapped in amber discovered in Myanmar

Florida Museum website

A joint study conducted by an International team of researchers has discovered world's oldest known frog trapped in amber in Myanmar. The study published in this week's Nature's Scientific Reports.

The research was funded jointly by National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Geographic Society, the Chinese Academy of Science, the University of Florida and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.

The study has revealed that frogs have lived in forest regions at least 99-million-years ago. More research on this fossilized evidence could help scientists to know how frogs migrated from forest regions to tropical areas.

David Blackburn, the associate curator of herpetology at the Florida Museum of Natural History and the co-author of the study said in a statement that these ancient frog fossils are well preserved in an amber and even the small bones are also easily detectable.

"This is pretty special. But what's most exciting about this animal is its context. These frogs were part of a tropical ecosystem that, in some ways, might not have been that different to what we find today – minus the dinosaurs," Blackburn added in the statement.

Scientists have named these extinct frog species 'Electrorana limoae'. Experts believe that frogs have been there on earth for at least 200 million years, but glimpsing their early heyday is always a very difficult task. As frogs are small and lightly built, their fossils do not tend to preserve well, and only in rare cases, frog fossils get trapped in amber.

Previously, similar fossilized frogs inside amber were found in the Dominican Republic and Mexico and those fossils were only about 40 and 25 million years, respectively.

"Ask any kid what lives in a rainforest, and frogs are on the list. But surprisingly, we have almost nothing from the fossil record to say that's a longstanding association," added Blackburn.

The fossil discovered in Myanmar is pretty well preserved and all the structures of the frog including its skull, forelimbs, backbone, and hindlimb are clearly visible in it. Experts believe that studying more about Electrorana limoae's bones will help to understand more about its living relatives on earth.

This article was first published on June 16, 2018