The oldest fossil salamanders

Six specimens of salamanders have recently been discovered at the bottom of a dry lake in China and identified a group of paleontologists from the University of Beijing and University of Chicago as the oldest Salamandroidea specimens of the species ever found on Earth. As noted by the scientists in their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . the age of the fossil is equal to approximately 157 million years old.

The samples, which was named by researchers Beiyanerpeton jianpingensis, were discovered in Liaoning province, in the area Taityanskogo layer (Tiaojishan Formation). A group of researchers reported that animals probably looked like the look of the Salamander today: a long body and tail, short legs. The adults are nearly four inches (10 centimeters) in length. However, tapered tail and gills on the body of these animals a very special kind, and the discovery of their remains on the bottom of an ancient lake, indicates that the ancestors of modern salamanders most of his life spent under water. The team also noted that salamanders usually have a very unique appearance, which greatly facilitates their identification.

After a detailed examination of the findings of the international research group suggested that salamanders, apparently, began to differ build from other specimens of its type earlier than usual was considered. The age of the animal helped scientists determine that the Salamander belonged to the Jurassic period, and consequently, they are much higher than those of salamanders, which are still considered the most ancient. The age of a fossil specimen of Salamander discovered in Spain is $ 114 million years. This makes B. jianpingensis the most ancient representatives of the subspecies of Salamandroidea, which are the ancestors 557 other species of salamanders that live today.

According to the researchers, the specimens are very well preserved, which allows to recognize the skeleton of the gills, and even animals. The reason for this was volcanic ash that covered the dry lake bed. Scientists also noted that several other salamanders of the samples of smaller dimensions were found in the same field, but it is unknown whether they belong to this same species. In addition, new samples are significantly different in structure from salamanders found earlier in Spain, meaning that they do not belong to the same family; B. jianpingensis described as more primitive animals.

In March of this year in the edition of Nature published an article by a group of researchers with a detailed description of the ancient fleas, fossils of which were discovered in Inner Mongolia. Flea, according to scientists, lived on Earth 199-54 million years ago. Thus, the flea and Salamander species Beiyanerpeton jianpingensis existed at one and the same time.

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