Mammal bones found
preserved in amber
April 10, 1996
Web posted at: 1:10 a.m. EDT
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Scientists have discovered what they say are the first authenticated mammal bones preserved in amber.
The remains are of a small shrew-like animal that lived in the Dominican Republic 18 to 29 million years ago, Ross MacPhee and David Grimaldi of the American Museum of Natural History in New York reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
A small backbone and ribs of the animal are so well preserved in the amber that thin strips of matter on the backbone may be the remnants of ligaments, the scientists say.
Vertebrates such as small lizards and frogs have been found in amber before, but this is the first definite mammalian specimen ever discovered other than a few strands of hair.
According to MacPhee, a Polish journal in 1994 reported that a part of a jaw from what was believed to be a pig-like creature was found in amber.
The fossil may help researchers learn more about how and when mammals first colonized the Caribbean islands.
FeedbackSend us your comments.
Selected responses are posted daily.
Copyright © 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.