Scientists have unearthed ancient evidence of a “slingshot” tongue in the fossils of 99-meter-old waterfalls.
Prehistoric armored creatures, known as albanerpetonids, were sitting and waiting predators who plundered their prey with the firing of their “ballistic tongues”.
Although they have lizard-like claws, scales and tails, the analysis suggests it albanerpetontids Not waterfowl and reptiles, the group said.
They believe the findings, published in the journal Science, redefine how small animals are fed. Albanerpedontids were previously thought to be underground burrows.
Edward Stanley, co-author of the study and director of the Florida Museum of Digital Discovery and Distribution Laboratory, said: “This discovery adds a super cool piece to the mystery of this vague group of strange little animals. Knowing that they have this ballistic tongue gives us a new understanding of this whole lineage. ”
Modern waterfalls are represented by three distinct lineages: frogs, salamanders and active Sicilians. The fourth line, up to 2 m years ago, was the Albanerpedontides, whose researchers say its lineage is at least 165 m years old.
However, Susan Evans, another co-author of the study and professor of vertebrate morphology and archeology at University College London, said the lineage may be as old as 250 m.
He said: “If the early albanerpetons had ballistic tongues, this feature would have lasted longer than the early chameleons, which may have been 120 m years ago.”
Fossils Small creatures were found in Myanmar, trapped in amber, and a sample found in the “mint state” provided researchers with a detailed study.
The fossil represents a new species of albanerpedontids, the researchers said Yaksha Beretti, Which is about 5 cm without tail.
Evans said: “We think of leaf litter as a tiny little thing, well hidden, but occasionally come out as a fly and throw its tongue out and snatch it up.”
Another fossil, a little teenager was previously misidentified as a chameleon due to “confusing traits” and had features similar to an albanerpetonite – namely nails, scales, massive eye sockets and a projectile tongue.
Evans said the revelation that albanerptonites contain explosives helped explain some of the “strange and wonderful” characteristics of their unusual jaw and neck joints and the large, forward-looking eyes, a common trait of predators.
The animals may have breathed fully through their skin, as some salamanders did, he added.
Despite the findings, the researchers said how albanerpedontids were fitted to the waterfall family tree remained a mystery.
Evans said: “In theory, albanerpedontids could give us a clue as to what the ancestors of modern waterfalls were like. Unfortunately, they are so special and so different in their own way, they didn’t help us that much. “