Researchers have found a large number of objects preserved in amber in the past, including a millipede, ticks, snails pigs. A new substance joins the list of preserved fossils in the form of slime mold.
A mixed team of researchers from the University of Helsinki, the American Museum of Natural History, and the University of Gottingen discovered slime mold kept in amber, which is 100 million years old. Within the ancient resin, the scientists also spotted a lizard leg.
Slime molds are single-cell organisms that consume microorganisms. They can fuse with other slime molds to form complex and productive fruiting bodies that can produce and release spores. Bodies of this type have been found in the amber.
It is theorized that the fragile fruiting bodies were removed from the tree bark by a lizard. Both were caught in the resin and remained trapped together.
Scientists Found Surprising Slime Mold Fossils Caught in Amber
The discovery is quite significant since only two other fossilized slime mold fruiting bodies have been identified, and they are younger. Researchers are confident that the new fossil could offer more information about the history and evolution of slime molds. It also matches a genus of the slime mold that exists in the present.
Slime molds belong to a group known as Amoebozoa. Organisms of this type spend most of their time living in soil or rotting food and consume bacteria. Fossil slime molds are very rare, and the one that was uncovered is pristine.
The lizard managed to detach the fruiting bodies when they were still in an early stage and didn’t release any spores.
According to one of the researchers who contributed to the study, signs of strong environmental selection are apparent. Slime molds, which released tiny spores, had a definite advantage as they could develop resilient resting stages during their lifecycle. Initial observations have been published in a scientific journal.