The fossilized remains of a 99 million year old bird with a strangely long toe were found in a piece of Burma amber.
The researchers found that the third finger of the sparrow-like creature's foot was 9.8 millimeters long, about 41 percent longer than the second longest figure and 20 percent longer than the entire leg, reported Science News.
Paleontologists do not know what an extra-long toe is, but it may have helped the Cretaceous period bird find food in hard-to-reach places, such as holes in the trees. The bird was perhaps a tree-dweller, also using its long claw to grab branches.
The formation of his foot was so unique that a fossil examination team, led by paleontologist Lida Xing of the Chinese University of Biosciences in Beijing, decided to declare a new species, the bird Elekorornis (bird amber) chenguangi. Their findings were published in Current Biology on Thursday.
The New York Times reported that the remains remained in hardened resin until the amber miners found the fossil in the Hukawng Valley in Burma in 2014.
He was first introduced to Chen Guang, curator at the Hupoge Amber Chinese Museum, and was initially suspected to be an extinct lizard.
However, Mr. Chen decided to consult with Ms. Xing, a Cretaceous bird specialist, and it was discovered that the tiny creature was linked to a group of extinct birds called Enantiornithes, abundant during the Cretaceous period of 145 BC. , 5 to 66 million years. .
"I was very surprised at that time," Dr. Xing told the Times, recalling that the fossil was "without a doubt the claw of a bird."
Dr. Xing's team compared peak height ratios with other known birds from the Mesozoic era, which began 252 million years ago, and found that no other species had a difference in size as spectacular.
Elektorornis chenguangi is extinct with other species of his family as well as non-avian dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period.