A fossilised lizard found in south-east Asia preserved in amber dates back 99m years, US scientists have determined, making it the oldest specimen of its kind and a “missing link” for reptile researchers.

The lizard is 75m years older than the previous record holder, according to researchers at the Florida museum of natural history, who announced the finding this week.

“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.

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