Incredibly Well-Preserved Organs Found Inside 35 Million-Year-Old Salamander Mummy

PHOTO CREDIT: Tisser et al, PeerJ

Discovering the lifestyles and cycles of archaeological remains is an incredibly tricky business. So much of what dictates an animal’s or early human’s experience and activities are rooted in organic material which decomposes before it has it a chance to fossilize, more often than not.

European scientists recently won big in the archaeological lottery not just once but twice while examining a remarkably well-preserved salamander fossil. Not only was the 34 to 40-million-year-old amphibian nearly intact, with fossilized organs including a lung, a spinal cord, muscles, and genitals. This in-and-of-itself is a remarkable discovery, but the French salamander’s digestive tract revealed an even rarer and more exciting discovery. The salamander’s intestines contained remnants of frog bones. It’s rare enough to discover fossilized food remnants, but this discovery is even more striking, as salamanders are not known to commonly eat frogs.

These revelations come as a result of increased 3d-imaging technology. Perhaps as time goes on, we’ll start to see a more detailed image of ancient life.