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