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99-Million-Year-Old Bird Found Preserved In Amber In Myanmar

9 June 2017, 8:35 am EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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The toothed baby bird found in a Burmese amber provided researchers with evidence of its independence at just a few days old. Burmese ambers contain a large variety of flora and fauna from the Cretaceous period.   ( Ming Bai | Chinese Academy of Sciences )

Researchers have found the most complete bird preserved in a casing of amber from Burma. The intricately preserved bird provided researchers with vast information about the birds of the Cretaceous period.

The Most Complete Fossil In Burmese Amber

The remains of a bird was discovered in a 99-million-year-old amber from Burma and shows a young, toothed bird that likely thrived in the Cretaceous period along with the dinosaurs. Considered as the most complete fossil yet to be found in Burmese amber, the bird's complete head, neck, both feet, much of its skin, and a part of one wing were preserved.

According to the research team's report published in the journal Gondwana Research on June 6, the young bird was likely at the early stages of its life at just about a few days or weeks into its life when it was trapped in the amber.

Self-Sufficient, Toothed Birds

The young bird was discovered to be a member of the major group of birds called enantiornithes, which is a group of ancient, toothed birds that went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period. The fossil revealed a bird roughly 3 inches long, with feathers that could possibly range from dark gray to brown in hue.

The tiny bird was found to be armed with a full set of teeth and wings with claws, and its feathers are said to be more similar to dinosaur feathers rather than modern birds. The presence of feathers on a very young bird specimen suggests that enantiornithes hatched with the innate ability to fly.

Further, this is suggestive of a species of birds that are almost immediately independent and self-sufficient from birth, quite unlike modern birds that are often cared for by parent birds in the early stages of life.

The presence of feathers on the young bird suggest an independent breed of birds almost immediately after hatching.
(Photo : Ming Bai | Chinese Academy of Sciences) The presence of feathers on the young bird suggests an independent breed of birds almost immediately after hatching.

However, the price of early independence is high, as evidenced by the large amount of juvenile enantiornithes on record. Such is the case of the bird, now nicknamed "Belone" after a Burmese Oriental skylark, as it was encased in sticky amber just a short while after it hatched.

The amber in which the preserved prehistoric bird was observed in was mined from the Hukawng Valley in Myanmar, a region that's rich in amber deposits which contain Cretaceous plant and animal life. Partly funded by the National Geographic Society's Expeditions Council, the researchers reporting on the preserved bird is the same team which reported the feathered dinosaur tail in 2016.

"Belone" is currently displayed at the Hupoge Amber Museum, but will be moved to the Shanghai Museum of Natural History from June 24 until the end of July.

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