A team of researchers believes to have found possibly the most complete bird as of yet after discovering a hatchling preserved in amber. This baby bird was dated as being over 99 million years old and to have lived in the Cretaceous period.
The fossilized specimen was acquired back in 2014 in Myanmar by Guang Chen. The director of China’s Hupoge Amber Museum in Tengchong City had heard that this piece contained a “lizard claw” inclusion. Still, a closer look at the piece of amber revealed so much more.
The Hatchling Preserved in the Same Piece of Amber Which Caused Its Death
Chen and his study team co-leader, Lida Xing, analyzed the mysterious claw and determined it to be an enantiornithine foot. Further imaging and studies of the amber piece revealed the incredible state of the baby bird within it.
This was almost entirely preserved, as researchers were able to detect a part of its skull, neck, a hind leg, and part of a wing. These were all hidden by layers of amber, clay-filled bubbles, and carbonized plant remains.
The team was not expecting such a complete exemplary. They believed to have stumbled upon some feathers and maybe a pair of feet. Still, the hatchling had many more surprises for them.
“The surprise continued when we started examining the distribution of feathers and and realized that there were translucent sheets of skin that connected many of the body regions appearing in the CT scan data,” stated Ryan McKellar.
He is one of the study researchers and part of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, Canada.
The baby bird is nicknamed “Belone” or the Burnamese name for an amber-colored skylark. Belone belongs to the Enantiornithes family. An avian group known as “opposite birds”, these lived along dinosaurs. Just as them, they went extinct some 65 million years ago.
This hatchling was perfectly preserved in the amber that unconsciously marked its death. Scientists believe that Belone most likely fell into a pool of sap, out of which it was unable to get out and found its end.
Research results offering more details about this baby bird are available in the journal Gondwana Research. Belone is also on display at the Shanghai Museum of Natural History throughout the summer.
Image Source: Wikimedia