More than 20 million years ago, a short struggle took place in what is now the Dominican Republic, resulting in one animal getting its leg bitten off by a predator just before it escaped. But in the confusion, it fell into a gooey resin deposit, to be fossilized and entombed forever in amber.
The fossil record of that event has revealed something not known before — that salamanders once lived on an island in the Caribbean Sea. Today, they are nowhere to be found in the entire Caribbean area.
“There are very few salamander fossils of any type, and no one has ever found a salamander preserved in amber,” Poinar said. “And finding it in Dominican amber was especially unexpected, because today no salamanders, even living ones, have ever been found in that region.”
Maybe the salamanders usually opted for self-preservation instead of amber preservation? 😉 That said,
Also a mystery, he said, is how salamanders got there to begin with. The physical evidence suggests the fossil represents an early lineage of phethodon salamanders that evolved in tropical America.
This fossil is 20-30 million years old, and its lineage may go back 40-60 million years ago when the Proto-Greater Antilles, that now include islands such as Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, were still joined to North and South America. Salamanders may have simply stayed on the islands as they began their tectonic drift across the Caribbean Sea. They also may have crossed a land bridge during periods of low sea level, or it’s possible a few specimens could have floated in on debris, riding a log across the ocean.More.
Must have been a pretty big and pretty stable log.
As more is known about the history of life (evolution), it becomes less grand speculation and more history. Actual history is based on evidence, so it is more fiddly than “there is a grandeur in this view of life,” and all that. As more is known about the history of life (evolution), it becomes less grand speculation and more history. Hence the ferment around the “modern synthesis” (Darwinism).
But, one trusts, history will be more informative in the long run.
Follow UD News at Twitter!