These Are the Most Ancient Frogs Ever Found Preserved in Amber

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By George Dvorsky

The extraordinary discovery of four small frogs preserved in amber is providing the earliest evidence of these now-prolific amphibians living in tropical rainforests.

New research published today Scientific Reports shows that frogs—an animal that first emerged some 200 million years ago—were occupying soggy forested regions at least 100 million years ago. This discovery is a big deal because fossils of forest amphibians are rare, and because scientists haven’t been sure when frogs first started to venture into tropical habitats.

“Frogs are common animals to encounter in the wet tropical forests of today, and easily more than a third of the nearly 7,000 species of frogs live in these wet forests,” David C. Blackburn, a co-author of the new study and the associate curator of amphibians and reptiles at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told Gizmodo. “But being small and living in a tropical forest also means that your likelihood of ending up in the fossil record is pretty low.”

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