Researchers Find Ancient Bird in Dinosaur-Era Amber

Sunday, November 3, 2019

An international team of researchers have discovered an amber containing an ancient bird dating back around 100 million years.

The specimen found in Hukawng Valley in northern Myanmar, an area rich in amber fossil discoveries, will help enrich understanding of the diversity of ancient birds and the evolution of feathers. The result of the research was published in Scientific Reports.

The specimen is currently stored at the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum in Quanzhou, Fujian Province. No bones are preserved in the new specimen but the outline of the bird foot is recorded in a detailed skin surface, which is surrounded by feathers.

Unlike previous discoveries in the same area, the bird's toes are very stout, and the outer toe appears strongly thickened relative to the inner two digits. The strong toes are similar to current raptors, which may indicate that the specimen is a small aerial insectivorous bird, according to Xing Lida, a paleontologist from the China University of Geosciences.

This type of foot has not been found in local fossil records, indicating the diversity of birds in the dinosaur era.