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Why did this extinct bird have such a long, strange foot?



About 99 million years ago, a small animal with a strange lengthened toe died and partially buried in amber. His leg and foot remained unchanged in the hardened resin until the amber miners finally discovered the fossil in the Hukawng Valley, Myanmar, in 2014.

The preserved tip is less than half an inch between the joints and the ends of the claws, making it 41% longer than the next longest digit on the animal's foot. When traders showed curious specimen Chen Guang, curator at the Hupoge Amber Chinese Museum, said it probably belonged to an extinct lizard.

Mr. Chen thought the remains looked more like an avian species. So he met Lida Xing, paleontologist of the University of Geosciences of China, specializing in Cretaceous birds.


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