Researchers have discovered a new fossil of dinosaur in northern Myanmar, dating back to 99 million years. The new specimen is a bird-like dinosaur, experts have determined from the skull which was stuck in amber.
The new species may be the smallest Mesozoic dinosaur discovered so far, the team of scientists said. Researchers describe a tiny fossil that resembles a bird skull in a piece of approximately 99-million-year-old amber. The specimen is incredibly well conserved, even having some soft tissue.
As per the discoveries published in the Nature journal, the skull of the bird is only 7.1 millimeters in length, which means that the dinosaur was similar in size to the bee hummingbird, the tiniest living bird.
Lars Schmitz, associate professor of biology at the W M Keck Science Department in the United States, said: “Amber preservation of vertebrates is rare, and this provides us a window into the world of dinosaurs at the lowest end of the body-size spectrum. Its unique anatomical features point to one of the smallest and most ancient birds ever found.”
The Animal Was a Predator
Scientists have dubbed the creature Oculudentavis khaungraae. Oculudentavis means ‘eye tooth bird,’ depicting highlighted features that suggested how the animal’s lifestyle might have been. Its skull has a large eye socket, similar to a lizard’s eye.
The eye socket has a narrow opening and only allows in a small quantity of light. Scientists say that the bird was most likely active during daylight. The lower and upper jaws had a significant number of sharp teeth, and the lead author of the paper believes that each jaw could have had about 29 to 30 teeth in total. In spite of its tiny size, this suggests that the dinosaur was a predator and most likely fed on small arthropods or invertebrates.
Professor Schmitz said: “No other group of living birds features species with similarly small crania in adults. This discovery shows us that we have only a small glimpse of what tiny vertebrates looked like in the age of the dinosaurs.”