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Archaeologists have found in amber, the smallest dinosaur in the world.
The finding of fossil remains of soft tissue and even the skeletons of tiny fauna is very rare, due to the delicate and small size of these animals.
However, exceptionally these tiny individuals, some from the age of dinosaurs, are preserved for millions of years inamber.
This is the case of a small dinosaur similar to a current hummingbird, but with lizard's teeth and eyes, called Oculudentavis khaungraae.
itsskull, discovered two years ago in the amber mines in northern Burma, was trapped about 99 million years ago in the resin.
A study, published in the journal Nature, now describes this new species of dinosaur, the smallest in the world to date.
With a skull only 7.1 mm in length, O. khaungraaeIt was similar in size to the smallest living bird, the hummingbird or fly bird.
"The skull belonged to avery primitive bird. Since birds are dinosaurs, the new fossil was interpreted as a bird and a dinosaur, "he explains. Luis M. Chiappe, researcher at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History in the USA.
A dinosaur-bird that lived in isolation
This finding inamber It provides unprecedented information to scientists, especially about the smallest animals whose remains are not represented in the fossil record.
“It is very relevant how this discovery highlights the importance of amber deposits to reveal ahidden diversity of small animalsChiappe points out.
The remains ofO. khaungraae,well preserved, have allowed the research team, led by Jingmai O'Connor of theInstitute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing (China), to learn about the lifestyle of the tiny animal. "It wasday, probably ateinsects and he lived in the trees ”, details the expert.
Theeye socket was big, similar to that of a lizard.
According to the researchers, it also had a narrow opening that only let in a small amount of light, so they deduced that the animal must be active during the day.
But one of the most striking characteristics is the presence of29 or 30 teeth in your jaw.
Despite its diminutive size, this suggests that it was apredator and it probably fed on small arthropods or invertebrates, unlike modern birds of similar size, which do not have teeth and feed on nectar.
Finally, its tiny size could have arisen from living in isolated environments, although the ecology in which it inhabited is unknown.
According to the authors, this amber was formed on an island within the Trans-Tethyan arc, an area where India collided with Asia.