Researchers discover fossilized bird preserved in amber

By Liu Xuanzun and Cao Siqi Published: 2020/2/10 3:51:15

An international team led by a Chinese paleontologist in Myanmar discovers a large ancient bird dating back to the Cretaceous period, preserved in amber. Photo: Courtesy of Xing Lida

An international team led by a Chinese paleontologist in Myanmar discovered a large ancient bird from the Cretaceous period and preserved in amber, the team announced on Monday.

The amber fossil, which lived some 99 million years ago during the early stages of late Cretaceous period, was discovered in Hukawng Valley, Kachin, located in the northernmost state of Myanmar, according to a statement from team leader Xing Lida, a paleontologist with Beijing-based China University of Geosciences, sent to the Global Times on Monday.

The fossilized bird was acquired by a Beijing-based amber collector in 2012 and handed over to Xing and his research team.

The specimen is 5.3 centimeters long, weighs 79.5 grams. Some of the right wing bones had been preserved, the statement said.

Based on the bone characteristics, Xing's team classified the bird in the enantiornithes group which populated the Cretaceous period and had teeth.

The wing's skin and feathers were also preserved, which will help scientists restore the wing's colors and patterns. The statement also noted that the bird preserved in the amber has mainly deep brown colored feathers, some lighter stripes and spots, making it different from other specimens found in the same area.

The most attractive feature is its size, as the longest feather is about 37 millimeters long.

The specimen could have been 10 centimeters long from the back edges of its skull to the pubic bone, the statement said. This could further indicate the bird was a more mature entity compared with previous discoveries, or it could be a larger enantiornithes never before seen. 

Either way, the amber discovery has expanded scientific knowledge on the size of ancient bird group in the region, the statement said.


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