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99 million-year-old fossilized lizard gives scientists a view of a ‘lost ecosystem’

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A fossilized lizard found in Southeast Asia preserved in amber dates back some 99 million years, Florida scientists have determined, making it the oldest specimen of its kind and a “missing link” for reptile researchers.

The lizard is some 75 million years older than the previous record holder, according to researchers at the Florida Museum of Natural History, who announced the finding this week.

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It was found decades ago in a mine along with other ancient, well-preserved reptile fossils, but the U.S. scientists were able to analyze the finds only recently.

“It was incredibly exciting to see these animals for the first time,” Edward Stanley, a member of the research team, said on Saturday. “It was exciting and startling, actually, how well they were preserved.”

Scientists believe the chameleon-like creature was an infant when it was trapped in a gush of sticky resin while darting through a tropical forest in what is now Myanmar, in Southeast Asia.

The creature’s entire body, including its eyes and colorful scales, is unusually well-preserved, Stanley said. The other reptiles trapped in the amber, including a gecko and an arctic lizard, were also largely intact.

Small reptiles have delicate bodies and typically deteriorate quickly, he said. Being encased in solid amber helped to lock the specimen together.

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Stanley and other researchers used high-resolution digital X-ray technology to examine the creatures and estimate the age of the amber without breaking it.

The discovery will help researchers learn more about the “lost ecosystem, the lost world” to which the creatures belonged, Stanley said, and it may help researchers learn more about the creatures’ modern relatives.

“It’s kind of a missing link,” Stanley said.

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(Editing by Frank McGurty and Leslie Adler)


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WATCH: Trump snaps at Black reporters calling them ‘you people’ during Rose Garden press conference

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President Donald Trump snapped at two Black reporters asking questions about his past statements on the coronavirus timeline.

During a Sunday press conference in the Rose Garden, Trump attacked Bloomberg and PBS reporters for their questions. In the case of the PBS reporter, who Trump has attacked multiple times, he referred to her and her Bloomberg colleague as "you people."

Yamiche Alcindor asked the president about his earlier accusations that masks were "going out the back door" and said that it was "worst than hoarding." She specifically cited his comments on Sean Hannity where he attacked blue-state governors, saying that if they're not nice to them he won't return their calls.

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‘I didn’t say Easter’: Trump tries to explain why he backtracked on reopening the economy

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President Donald Trump has inevitably backtracked on reopening the country by Easter, saying it was "aspirational."

Last week the president proclaimed that he wanted packed churches on Easter Sunday, which is April 12.

"I'd love to have it open by Easter," Trump said. "I would love to have that. It's such an important day for other reasons, but I'll make it an important day for this too. I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter."

"Wouldn't it be great to have all the churches full?" Trump added. "You'll have packed churches all over our country. I think it'll be a beautiful time."

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Trump accuses New York hospitals of ‘hoarding’ masks and ventilators without evidence

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President Donald Trump went off on a rant accusing hospitals, doctors and nurses of hoarding equipment and intentionally exaggerating the things they need.

Speaking in the Rose Garden Sunday, Trump asked, "How do you go from 10 to 20 to 300,000 masks? Where are the masks going, are they going out the backdoor?"

Indeed, the masks are going in the trash after they're used. The masks are one-use masks, which Trump said he wants to be able to sanitize them so people can reuse them.

"They have to look into that in New York," Trump said, noting that he heard they went from 10,000 masks to 300,000 masks.

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