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10-million-year-old amber yields unexpected find

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Retinosaurus hkamtiensis, A) Fossil embed in amber, B)3D model of the body dorsal scales, C) Detail of the ventral scales of the head, D and E) Lateral views of the head. CT reconstructions by Edward Stanley using synchrotron data gathered at Imaging and Medical Beamline at the Australi-an Synchrotron in Melbourne. Images courtesy of Adolf Peretti and the Peretti Museum FoundationRetinosaurus hkamtiensis, A) Fossil embed in amber, B)3D model of the body dorsal scales, C) Detail of the ventral scales of the head, D and E) Lateral views of the head. CT reconstructions by Edward Stanley using synchrotron data gathered at Imaging and Medical Beamline at the Australi-an Synchrotron in Melbourne. Images courtesy of Adolf Peretti and the Peretti Museum Foundation

Special to the Enterprise

Juan Diego Daza, associate professor in Sam Houston State University’s Department of Biological Sciences, is co-author of a new study that involves the discovery a new species of fossil lizard.

Published recently in Scientific Reports, the collaborative research describes the first definite representative of a group of lizards known as scincoideans, a group that today includes skinks, Ar-mored Lizards, and Night Lizards, or xantusiids. Intriguingly, the fossil most closely resembles xantusiids, which are today found only the American southwest, Central America and Cuba, half a world away from Myanmar.

According to Daza, this new fossil lizard resembles xantusiids in some morphological features, notably the arrangement of its scales which, along with parts of the skeleton, have been preserved in the amber. Even the delicate eyelids are visible, revealing a difference from modern Night Liz-ards, in which the eyelids are fused into a transparent scale, as in snakes.

“We had the rare opportunity of studying the articulated skeleton, but also describing the external appearance of the lizard (scalation), in the same way that herpetologists (amphibian and reptile specialists) study modern species,” Daza said.

The resemblance of this fairly complete specimen to modern xantusiids suggests that the new fossil lizard, like modern xantusiids, may have been active in cryptic microhabitats such as rock crevices or under logs.

The specimen was found in Myanmar’s Hkamti District in a mine located about 100 kilometers from the more famous mines of the Hukawng Basin which have yielded most of the previously described fossil vertebrates from Myanmar. The new mine is also older by 10 million years, placing these fossils in the Early Cretaceous.

The fossil was found in 2017 by local researcher, Burmese gemologist Nyi Nyi Aung who was working with Adolf Peretti from GRS Gemresearch, the curator of the Peretti Museum Foundation (a Swiss institution dedicated to Burmite research), where the specimen now resides. Together they recognized the scientific significance of the specimen, which was recovered from among the hun-dreds of thousands of amber pieces from the Khamti region recovered by indigenous miners. The specimen has travelled around the world to access the latest imaging technology, including the High-Resolution X-Ray CT Facility in Austin, Texas and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

With the data generated in these facilities, the fossil could be studied in great detail by an international collaboration of researchers from Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Spain, Slovakia, Canada, USA, Argentina, and Australia. 3D data from the CT analysis is freely available to other researchers, educators and the general public.

The study was the result of an international team of collaborators lead by Andrej Čerňanský from the Comenius University in Bratislava.

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The Diamonds to perform in Livingston

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The Diamonds will perform Feb. 19 at the Polk County Commerce. Courtesy photoThe Diamonds will perform Feb. 19 at the Polk County Commerce. Courtesy photo

From Enterprise Staff

“Let’s Rock Broadway” starring The Diamonds, a showtune extravaganza, will be featured at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Polk County Commerce Center located at 1017 U.S. 59 Loop North in Livingston, marking the first performance of 2022 hosted by the Livingston Community Concerts Association.

Best known for their 1957 hit Little Darlin’ which has now sold approximately 20 million copies, The Diamonds have performed with symphonies, in major concert halls, on cruise ships, in casinos and throughout the world.

“We’ve been pleased to find a growing audience among all age groups. They love songs they can understand, remember and actually sing the words to—today, tomorrow or even 20 years from now,” The Diamonds said.

One reason the group endures is the diverse background of its members which include Adam David Marino, Michael Lawrence, Jeff Dolan and Gary Owens. The members are well-educated as well as talented.

Marino attended Nazareth College as a theatre-arts major. Lawrence, originally from South Carolina, now resides in Las Vegas. He has a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater from Coastal Carolina University. Both Marino and Lawrence have traveled extensively, performing on cruise lines. Dolan, who joined the group in 2011, has performed with Ray Conniff, was a member of the Dapper Dans of Disneyland and has a Grammy Award performing with the Phoenix Chorale. Owens, the longest performing member of the group, has an undergraduate degree in music from California State University Long Beach and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California.

“Our goal has always been to the keep that classic Diamonds’ sound intact. Although The Diamonds are four distinctive individuals, we have created one strong group personality. The four of us as a unit have a special chemistry and it is that chemistry that gives us our unique identity,” Owens said. He is a vocalist who also plays saxophone and flute and does much of the vocal arranging for the group.

Memberships in the Livingston Community Concert Association may be purchased for as little as $50 per person and family rates are also available. Membership will allow one to attend all concerts per season. For additional information go to www.livingstoncommunityconcert.org or contact Sally Frasier at 936-967-0219.

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Two in custody on organized criminal activity charges

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From Enterprise Staff

A Livingston woman and Dayton man have been arrested on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity-obstruction or retaliation and false report to induce emergency response after multiple incidents involving the two last week.

The Livingston Police Department received a 911 call Feb. 4 around 1:30 p.m. stating that an unknown male was around Banks Drive with a pistol equipped with a silencer. The caller stated that the unknown male had entered her immediate neighbor’s residence. 

According to police, the caller stated that a female lived there with her children, and she was concerned not only for the neighbor and her children, but for herself as well. Livingston officers were dispatched to the area when a second 911 call came into the department from a different caller who stated the same as the first report. The caller wanted a welfare check, also stating the subject had the pistol in his hand walking around and causing concern. The caller stated the unknown male had entered one of the apartments. 

Officers arrived on scene and went to the apartment described by the 911 callers. They observed several unknown individuals, one of which was wearing a holstered pistol equipped with a silencer. Officers attempted to talk to the occupants of the apartment, inquiring about the silencer and what was happening. 

After a short time, officers recognized the occupants were recording and had set up a camera in the apartment window. During the investigation, officers recognized two of the individuals in the apartment as Melanie Renee McCrory, 39, of Livingston, and Brandon Michael White, 38, of Dayton, Tx. Officers determined that there was no threat to anyone and that these individuals had created the panic in the residential district to have police respond so they could be recorded for their social media channels. Officers then left the scene. 

Approximately five hours later Officer Chris Simmons observed a vehicle following him while patrolling the city. The vehicle followed Simmons to a local store, where it backed into a parking space and the occupants remained in their vehicle. Simmons completed his business at the store and left with the vehicle following him out of the driveway. Simmons continued patrolling the city until returning to the police department. While still in the police department parking lot, Simmons met with Officer Tito Reyes. The officers then observed the vehicle that had been following Simmons pull into the First National Bank parking lot, next to the police department. The vehicle then drove slowly past the officers in the parking lot, where officers observed the vehicle to be occupied by several times.

Simmons started toward the vehicle on foot, but the vehicle left. The officer was able to get license plate information from the vehicle, which indicated it to be registered to an individual from Laredo, Texas. Later that evening, at approximately 10:46 p.m., Reyes observed the vehicle at Polk and Jackson Street (northeast corner of police department/city hall). Reyes observed one of the occupants exit the vehicle go to the trunk of the vehicle and then returned wearing ballistic body armor. Moments later, Simmons observed the vehicle pull back into the parking area of the bank, giving the vehicle a direct line of site to the police department employee exit, and the occupants a tactical advantage for an assault that officers believed was about to occur. 

Simmons went to his vehicle and positioned it behind the suspicious vehicle. He then approached the vehicle and attempted to talk with the driver’s seat occupant, who replied in Spanish. The officer waited until Reyes arrived, who then began communicating with the subject in Spanish. Due to the suspicious circumstances and possible threat of an assault or other criminal activity, Simmons attempted to identify the subject, but he repeatedly refused. The occupants became more hostile toward officers. Officers observed that at least the individual in the driver’s seat was still wearing a ballistic vest loaded with ammunition, making quick hand movements and shining a flashlight in the officers’ eyes, which appeared to be attempts to escalate the incident. While this was going on, officers recognized White in the back seat of the vehicle. Law enforcement again realized that this was a staged event to record the officer’s response and for the individuals to post on their social media pages. Upon realizing this, officers disengaged with the individuals. 

Officers completed reports in both cases, which were assigned to detectives for investigation. On Feb. 9, McCrory and White were both arrested on warrants for engaging in organized criminal activity-obstruction or retaliation (F2) and false report to induce emergency response (MA). The investigation is ongoing.

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Download ETxN app - Breaking news delivered to you

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Enter to win grand prize package worth $1200

From Enterprise Staff

In an effort to disseminate information to Polk Countians instantly, the new East Texas News app will deliver breaking news to all who download it.

When the free-of-charge app is acquired, there is an option to enable push notifications for the latest reports. Go to any app store and download easttexasnews.com to your mobile device. In addition, the app gives access to news, photos, videos and more to the five-county region of Polk, Tyler, San Jacinto, Trinity and Houston County.

As an incentive, everyone who downloads the app from now until the end of the month can be entered into a drawing. The grand prize package worth $1,200 that includes a surprise adventure weekend in East Texas. That drawing will occur on air at easttexasnews.com March 1 to announce the winner.

To enter, download the app to your mobile device. Then, screen shot your home screen and email or text with your name and contact information to Polk County Publisher Kelli Barnes. Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or text 409-594-7408. 

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Looking for suspects

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The Livingston Police Department is investigating a theft that occurred at a local business. The two subjects in the photographs are currently persons of interest in the investigation.  Those with information on the identity and location of the individuals or vehicle are asked to contact the Livingston Police Department at 936-327-3117 (reference case number 220100553). Courtesy photos

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