Amber has revealed yet another surprise for scientists as a team of researchers reported finding an almost perfectly preserved baby bird. This hatchling was dated as being almost 100 million years old. Its advanced age also places it as a contemporary of several dinosaur species.
A Baby Bird Spent 99 Million Years Encased in Amber
This is not the first time scientists discovered very well if almost perfectly preserved fauna and flora in amber. Previous researchers detected poisonous flowers, maintained in the same way. Others even found remains from a dinosaur with a feathered tail.
Still, this is the first time that scientists stumble upon a nearly complete hatchling. This is believed to have lived almost 100 million years ago in what is now Myanmar. Research indicates that the baby bird met with an untimely end after most likely falling in the pool of sap of a conifer tree.
This also ensured its preservation, which still presents it in its struggles of escaping its sap confinement.
According to a research paper on the matter, this may well be the most complete bird found until now. The hatchling still has most of its skull, its full neck, a hind limb, and a partial limb. These have all been preserved in the amber that most likely also spelled its doom.
“[I thought we had] just a pair of feet and some feathers before it underwent CT imaging. It was a big, big, big surprise after that,” said Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences.
The researchers to study it also pointed out the hatchling’s possible bizarre aspect, at least according to the current standard. This seems to have presented brown and gray feathers on its legs, feet, and tail. However, it appears to have had none on the rest of its body, as one would expect it to.
This baby bird belonged to the enantiornithines family, a major group of birds. Just as the dinosaurs with which it was contemporary, these birds went extinct some 65 million years ago. This must have happened at the end of the Cretaceous period.
Study results are now available in a paper in the journal Gondwana Research.
Image Source: Wikimedia