SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico – Mexican scientists are studying a fossil of a lizard that lived about 23 million years ago and whose soft tissue remains have been preserved in amber.
The small piece of fossil resin, which is in the shape of a trapezoid and entombs the skeleton, was found several months ago in the Simojovel amber deposits of the northern part of the southeastern state of Chiapas in the Maya World Region.
Amber often contains small remains of plants and animals, but it is rare to find complete vertebrates such as this lizard, preliminarily identified as a new species of the genus Anolis and currently on display at the Amber Museum in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Francisco Riquelme, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Physics Institute, said the specimen of approximately 4.5 centimeters (1.8 inches) by 1.3 centimeters (0.5 inches) was “a complete and articulated animal that also preserves remains of soft tissue and skin.”
Gerardo Carbot, director of Chiapas’s Paleontology Museum, said for his part that fossil specimens found in the state date back a minimum of 23 million years because that is the age of the amber that is extracted from deposits in the area of Simojovel, Huitihupan, El Bosque, Pueblo Nuevo, Palenque, Totolapa and Malpaso.