Scientists have uncovered the oldest evidence of a “slingshot” tongue in the fossils of 99 million year old amphibians.
Prehistoric armored animals, known as albanarpetontids, were sitting and waiting for predators who snatched prey by firing their “ballistic tongue” punches.
Although they had lizard-like claws, scales and tails, the analysis showed that albenerpetontidis were amphibians and not reptiles.
In research published in the journal Science, they believe in how small animals are fed. Albanerpetontids were formerly considered underground baroque.
Edward Stanley, co-author of the study and director of the Florida Museum of Digital Discovery and Promotion Laboratory for Natural History, said: “This discovery adds a wonderful cool piece to the puzzle of this obscure group of strange little creatures. Knowing that they have this ballistic tongue leads to a whole new realization of our whole lineage. “
Modern day amphibians are represented by three distinct lineages: the frog, the salamander, and the limeless casilian. Researchers say there was a fourth line up to 2 million years ago, Albenerpetontidus, whose lineage is at least 165 million years ago.
However, Susan Evans, another co-author of the study and professor of spinal morphology and paleontology at University College London, said the lineage may have originated more than 250 million years ago.
He said: “If the early Albanarpetonites also had ballistic languages, the feature would have lasted longer than the oldest giraffe, probably 120 million years ago.”
Fossils of small animals were uncovered in Myanmar, trapped in amber, and a sample found in the “mint condition” gave researchers the opportunity for detailed testing.
The researchers said the fossil represented a new species, Albanarpetontides, named Yaksa peretii, Which was about 5 cm long without a tail.
Evans said: “We imagined it was faking in a stocky little leaf container, well hidden, but occasionally coming out for a flight, dropping its tongue and catching it.”
Another fossil, a small juvenile previously identified as a chameleon with its “bewildering features”, had features similar to those of albanarpetontid – such as claws, scales, huge eye sockets, and a sensitive tongue.
Evans said the speculative language of the Albanarpetontids had some “strange and surprising” features such as their unusual jaw and neck joints and large, forward-looking eyes that helped explain a common feature of predators.
Like some salamanders, animals can breathe perfectly through their skin, he added.
Despite the findings, the researchers said that how albenerpetontides were planted in amphibian family trees remains a mystery.
Evans said: “Theoretically, albanarpetnitides can give us an idea of what the ancestors of modern amphibians looked like. Unfortunately, they are so specialized and so weird in their own way that they don’t help us that much.”
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