Baby Opposite Bird Preserved in 100 Million Year Old Amber

Posted on June 9, 2017

A baby bird from the Cretaceous was preserved in amber. It lived alongside dinosaurs during its shortened life. The 100 million year old amber fossil was found in Myanmar.

New Scientist reports that the hatchling was only a few days old when in probably fell into a pool of sap from a conifer tree. The young chick belongs to a group of birds known as "opposite birds" (Enantiornithes). This group of birds died out with the dinosaurs over 60 million years ago. The "opposite bird" name comes from the socket joint of the species which is the reverse of modern birds - a socket-and ball joint instead of a ball-and-socket joint.

Scientists think opposite birds hatched full of feathers and then climbed up into trees. They were not down covered like modern hatchlings. The tree climbing behavior made it more likely a baby opposite bird might get stuck in sap and preserved.

An article about the preserved hatchling was published in Gondwana Research. It is described by scientists as "the most complete bird preserved encased in Amber uncovered to date."

Image: Lida Xing, et. al.

More from Science Space & Robots