Lizard Preserved in 99 Million Year-Old Amber a Clue to ‘Lost Ecosystem’

March 6, 2016 Updated: March 6, 2016

A lizard fossilized in amber that was found in Southeast Asia could date back as far as 99 million years, which would make it among the oldest reptiles of its kind ever found. 

The lizard is a whopping 75 million years older than the previous record holder, according to researchers at the Florida Museum of Natural History who found the fossil, Reuters reports. 

“It was incredibly exciting to see these animals for the first time,” Edward Stanley, a member of the research team, told Reuters. “It was exciting and startling, actually, how well they were preserved.”

The eyes and scales of the chameleon-like creature were extremely well preserved, alongside a gekko and an arctic lizard, according to Stanley. If the creatures hadn’t been trapped inside the sticky resin, which hardens into amber, it would’ve decomposed quickly. 

To examine the creatures without breaking the amber, and possibly the fossil, Stanley uses a digital x-ray, which will help his team explore the “lost ecosystem, the lost world” to which the creature belonged.