The amber remains of an ancient 99-million-year-old bird with a crazy long toe were found in a piece of amber from Burma.
Researchers found that the third digit of the sparrow-like creature's foot was 9.8 millimeters long, 41
percent longer than the second-longest digit and 20 percent longer than the entire lower leg, Science News reported.
Paleontologists are not sure what the purpose of the extra-long toe was, but it may have helped the Cretaceous bird find food in hard-to-reach places, such as holes in trees. Perhaps the bird was a tree dweller, who also reached for twigs with his outstretched claw.
The formation of the foot was so unique that a team investigating the fossil, led by paleontologist Lida Xing of the Chinese University of Life Sciences in Beijing, decided to declare a new species, the bird Elektorornis (amber bird). chenguangi. Their findings were published on Thursday in Current Biology.
The New York Times reported that the remains had been lying undisturbed in hardened tree resin until the miners found the fossil in Burma's Hukawng Valley in 2014.
It was first handed over to Chen, curator at the Chinese Hupoge Amber Museum and originally suspected as an extinct lizard.
However, Mr. Chen decided to consult Ms. Xing, who specialized in chalk birds, and it was found that the tiny creature was related to an extinct group of toothed clawed birds called Enantiornithes, which ranged from 145.5 to 66 during the Cretaceous Millions were millions millions of years ago.