Stunning Ancient Snail Found In Piece Of Amber

Posted: Oct 12 2018, 9:11am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 12 2018, 9:18am CDT, in Latest Science News


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Stunning Snail Found in Piece of Amber
Credit: National Geographic

The 99-million-year-old amber was discovered in northern Myanmar.

Researchers have found the oldest ever example of snail soft tissues in a 99-million-year-old piece of amber. The specimen is preserved in Burmese amber from Myanmar and consists of a snail shell with head, eye stalk and a part of foot. The major discovery of its kind sheds new light on the ancient ecosystems that had been shared by dinosaurs.

Snail in amber are incredibly rare. They are small, soft-bodied and extraordinarily fragile creatures so they don't tend to preserve well. The latest snail specimen that was purchased from a private fossil collector in 2016 is also not in ideal state. Still, the fossil is important and helps add to our understanding of snails in Cretaceous Period.

At least 70 million years older than the previous oldest specimen on record, the new snail measures less than 0.2 inches across and is likely related to modern cyclophoroidean land snails found in tropical and subtropical environments.

“The soft part preservation of a snail in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber is recorded for the first time. The architaenioglossan caenogastropod, probably belonging to a juvenile of the superfamily Cyclophoroidea and perhaps the Cyclophoridae.” Authors wrote in the study.

Amber is fossilized form of tree resin that flows from a tree and acts as a trap for small species. The resin or sticky substance turns into amber over time and provides important clues about ancient environments.

“Ancient tree resin has exceptional preservation potential, capturing the finest of details of fossil organisms millions of years old in perfect 3-D space – so much so that they appear as though they just became trapped in the resin yesterday.” Coauthor Jeffrey Stilwell, a paleontologist at Monash University in Melbourne told National Geographic.

With the recent discoveries of baby birds, snake and rain forest frogs, the amber deposits from northern Myanmar in Asia provide a unique record of ancient species and their ecosystems.

“The diversity in Burmese amber is truly phenomenal and … contains a mixture of primitive extinct forms and forms that are similar to living relatives,” said study coauthor Andrew Ross at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. “It is providing a wealth of information about animals that were previously only known from fossils in rock.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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