Earliest example of a rapid-fire tongue found in ‘weird and wonderful’ extinct amphibians — ScienceDaily

Fossils of bizarre, armored amphibians known as albanerpetontids provide the oldest evidence of a slingshot-style tongue, a new Science study shows.

Despite having lizardlike claws, scales and tails, albanerpetontids — mercifully called “albies” for short — were amphibians, not reptiles. Their lineage was distinct from today’s frogs, salamanders and caecilians and dates back at least 165 million years, dying out only about 2 million years ago.

Now, a set of 99-million-year-old fossils redefines these tiny animals as sit-and-wait predators that snatched prey with a projectile firing of their tongue — and not underground burrowers, as once thought. The fossils, one previously misidentified as an early chameleon, are the first albies discovered in modern-day Myanmar and the only known examples in amber.

They also represent a new genus and species: Yaksha perettii, named after treasure-guarding spirits known as yakshas in Hindu literature and Adolf Peretti, the discoverer of two of the

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These Extinct Amphibians Had Slingshot-Style Tongues

KEY POINTS

  • Albies are amphibians that went extinct some two million years ago
  • Not a lot is known about them because of poorly preserved fossils
  • Researchers found that they had slingshot-style tongues, contrary to previous belief that they were underground burrowers

Researchers found evidence that an “albie” from 99 million years ago had a “slingshot” tongue, much like some modern-day reptiles. This new study helps shed light on the nature of these mysterious creatures.

A group of amphibians had thrived for more than 165 million years until they went completely extinct about two million years ago. Called Albanerpetontids, or “albies,” these ancient amphibians are distinct from ancient hopping frogs, the low-crawling salamanders and the limbless caecilians, the researchers explained.

In their study, now published in the journal Science, the researchers shared their discovery of something rather interesting about these albies: they were actually “ballistic feeders.” This means that just

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Two fossils from a group of extinct seabirds represent the largest individuals ever found — ScienceDaily

Fossils recovered from Antarctica in the 1980s represent the oldest giant members of an extinct group of birds that patrolled the southern oceans with wingspans of up to 21 feet that would dwarf the 11½-foot wingspan of today’s largest bird, the wandering albatross.

Called pelagornithids, the birds filled a niche much like that of today’s albatrosses and traveled widely over Earth’s oceans for at least 60 million years. Though a much smaller pelagornithid fossil dates from 62 million years ago, one of the newly described fossils — a 50 million-year-old portion of a bird’s foot — shows that the larger pelagornithids arose just after life rebounded from the mass extinction 65 million years ago, when the relatives of birds, the dinosaurs, went extinct. A second pelagornithid fossil, part of a jaw bone, dates from about 40 million years ago.

“Our fossil discovery, with its estimate of a 5-to-6-meter wingspan —

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