SCIENCE

99-Million-Year-Old Missing Link Lizard X-Rayed [Watch]

(Photo : Marc Deville - Getty Images) A 99-million-year-old lizard, preserved in amber, has been examined through digital scanning technology.

An incredibly rare fossil, found in Southeast Asia, has been digitally imaged thanks to breakthroughs in scanning technology. The specimen is odd due to its age and condition. Scientists believe the chameleon-like creature is a missing link.

Reuters reports that the 99-million-year-old fossilized lizard was found in what is now Myanmar. Researchers believe the animal, almost perfectly preserved in amber, became trapped in sticky resin while moving through the forest floor.

The fossil was discovered several decades ago, according to Reuters, but can now be examined with updated technology.

A team, including researcher Edward Stanley, used high-res digital X-ray tomography, also known as CT scanning, to examine the specimen, Reuters reports.

Such scans can render teeth, scales, toes and skull structure in remarkable detail. Livescience reports that one scanned lizard was nicknamed "Nosferatu" due to its long spindly toes.

View a 3-D scan of an amber-preserved reptile below.

This CT scan also allowed researchers to determine the approximate age of the lizard.

Huffington Post reports that the reptile is placed in the mid-Cretaceous era which ended nearly 70 million years ago. This revelation makes the colorfully scaled lizard the oldest of its kind predating similar specimens by 75 million years.

The preserved animal gives scientists a glimpse into a rarely seen reptile bionetwork.

The lizard is a transitional fossil often called a "missing link." It displays traits of an ancestral and descendant group. Reuters states that Stanley believes this specimen is the key to a "lost ecosystem."

Other specimens were found in the amber, including a gecko and arctic lizard. Excavators were mystified at their condition since reptiles generally deteriorate quickly.

American Museum of Natural History curator David Grimaldi told Livescience, "Lizards are extremely rare in any amber deposit."

Stanley said this specimen will help researchers see into "the lost world."

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TECH May, 11, 2016, 05:07 AM

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