Scientists Find 99 MILLION-YEAR-OLD Snail in Dinosaur-Era Amber
An international team of paleontologists announced in Beijing their discovery of a fossilized snail in a piece of amber dating back around 100 million years.
While most of snail fossils retain only the shell, the new discovery is the oldest example of soft tissues, such as the tentacles, of snail preserved in amber, according to Xing Lida, an assistant professor at the China University of Geoscience and leader of the team.
The snail in amber was found at Hukawng Valley in northern Myanmar, an area rich in amber fossil discoveries. Amber can contain different kinds of soft tissues, providing valuable palaeontological information.
"The pair of tentacles and the eyes of the snail have been preserved intact in the amber," said Xing.
The research was jointly conducted by scientists from China, Britain, Australia, and Canada.
The find is one of the most notable in the history of palaeontology as the soft tissue of the animal was preserved inside the amber.
Most other prehistoric snail discoveries have been of just their shell.
The bombshell discovery was discussed this week in a paper by National Geographic explorer Lida Xing that was published in the journal, Cretaceous Research.
Co-author Jeffrey Stilwell called the find “extraordinary” compared to similar fossils uncovered in the past.
Mr Xing said: ”The pair of tentacles and the eyes of the snail have been preserved intact in the amber.”
The paper states: "The soft parts of the snail are very stretched, and this could represent a final attempt at escape to no avail.
“Given that the snail was seemingly entombed in tree resin while alive, this could account for the pronounced distortion in the preserved soft tissues."
Earlier this year, the perfectly preserved body of a dinosaur-era bird was found in a chunk of amber.
At the time, scientists described it as “game-changing”, saying it gave the clearest picture of avian evolution to date.
The bird measured approximately 2.4ins long and it would have had teeth inside its beak and dark feathers covering its body.