Scientists have found baby birds trapped in amber from when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
Scientists have made an incredible find in Myanmar: tiny baby birds trapped in amber sap in a tropical forest 99 million years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth.
Two wings of birds that lived during the time of the dinosaurs have been found been found completely preserved in amber, including perfect detail in the feathers and even traces of color from its plumage, according to the study which was published in the journal Nature Communications.
These birds had wings with sharp claws, allowing the young birds to escape from the trees — an unsual feature of birds, as usually babies wait in the nest to be fed and grow some more before flying the coop.
The fossils are just two to three centimeters long and could help scientists better understand how birds evolved.
The team of researchers used X-ray scanning techniques to look closely at the structure of the bones and feathers. The birds were likely still living when they got stuck in the sap.
“Our knowledge of Cretaceous plumage is limited by the fossil record itself: compression fossils surrounding skeletons lack the finest morphological details and seldom preserve visible traces of colour, while discoveries in amber have been disassociated from their source animals,” the paper’s abstract states. “Here we report the osteology, plumage and pterylosis of two exceptionally preserved theropod wings from Burmese amber, with vestiges of soft tissues.
“The extremely small size and osteological development of the wings, combined with their digit proportions, strongly suggests that the remains represent precocial hatchlings of enantiornithine birds,” it continues. “These specimens demonstrate that the plumage types associated with modern birds were present within single individuals of Enantiornithes by the Cenomanian (99 million years ago), providing insights into plumage arrangement and microstructure alongside immature skeletal remains. This finding brings new detail to our understanding of infrequently preserved juveniles, including the first concrete examples of follicles, feather tracts and apteria in Cretaceous avialans.”
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