New discovery! Chinese and foreign scientists find large ancient birds in amber

BEIJING, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) — A team of Chinese and foreign scientists announced in Beijing that they had found an anti-bird wing larger than the previous specimen in Cretaceous amber in Myanmar, which is important for scholars to understand the size of the Cretaceous anti-bird and the appearance of the feathers on the wings. The study was led by Associate Professor Yu Lida of the University of Geosciences (Beijing) and Professor Ryan C. McKellar, a U.S. researcher at the Institute of Paleovertebrates and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: “We’re not going to be there. O’Connor’ co-study. The research paper was published in the well-known academic journal Oftsy Paleontology, Cretaceous Research.

New discovery! Chinese and foreign scientists find large ancient birds in amber

Specimens CT scan data

The amber fossils are found in the Hugang Valley in Kachin state in northern Myanmar, located in the northernmost part of Myanmar, in the upper reaches of the Chindun River, consisting of the Daro Basin and the Xinpingyang Basin, with dense mountains and rivers, and flooding during the rainy season. Burmese is “where the devil lives”. Locals refer to this area of no man’s land, which is hundreds of miles wide, known collectively as “Wild Man Mountain”. Geologists have determined the ash in the mine and found that the amber formed about 99 million years ago and belonged to the early Cretaceous period, so it is considered the only window for humans to get a glimpse into the real Cretaceous world. In 2016, the team discovered the world’s first amber in the Hugang Valley for the first time in ancient birds and dinosaurs, causing a sensation in the domestic andmedia, after which the team made a series of important discoveries, such as the first snake record in amber, the first name of the amber birds and so on.

New discovery! Chinese and foreign scientists find large ancient birds in amber

The pattern of the feathers on the specimen is clearly visible.

Birds are one of the most biologically diverse vertebrates in the world, with about 10,500 species. In the long evolutionary history of nearly 150 million years, a total of the Cretaceous period and the new generation of two radiation evolution, in which the Cretaceous period is an important stage of bird evolution, recorded how birds evolved from dinosaurs. The bird amber wraps in the Hugang Valley are rich and helpful to our understanding of the evolution of birds.

The specimens disclosed by the scholars are kept at the Lu Ming Amber Exhibition Hall in Beijing, where Mr. Lu Ming, an amber collector, and his friends were collected from the mining area in northern Myanmar in 2012 and then provided to the team for research. The specimen is 5.3 cm long and weighs 79.4 grams, preserving a small number of hand bones on the right wing of the ancient bird, with an identifiable bone length of no more than 1 cm, including the hinged finger bone and possible palm bone. Wherein, the preserved finger claws, i.e. the last finger bone or the 3rd finger section length 2 mm, the associated knuckle or 2nd finger section length 4.7 mm, incomplete palm bone or 1st finger length 1.2 mm. The finger bone 2 is longer than the finger claw, and the finger claw is strongly bent, and through the relative position of the feather and bone, we infer that the preserved finger bone belongs to the large finger (major/digit III) is most likely, nor can it be excluded that it belongs to the small wing finger (alular digit d/digit I), but not the small finger (minor /digit digit). The proportional characteristics of preserving bones may temporarily classify the specimen as an anti-bird. Anti-birds are a very rich group of Cretaceous birds with teeth left in the mouth, because its scapula and the bone of the muscous bone are connected in the opposite way to modern birds, so it is called anti-birds, and dinosaurs were extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period. At present, ancient birds of amber animals in northern Myanmar are anti-birds.

New discovery! Chinese and foreign scientists find large ancient birds in amber

A close-up of the claws on the wings

At the same time, the skin and feathers on the wings have been preserved to a great extent, which helps scholars restore the shape and color of feathers on the wings of the Cretaceous anti-birds. The feathers in the specimen preserved the original color, mainly dark brown, the primary feather color is obviously deeper than the primary feather, and more obvious than the previous specimen light color horizontal, longitudinal marking, wherein the primary feather end has a column of light spots, the middle part of the feather is wider, the end also has an asymmetrical light spot is a fragmented speckled distribution.

The most striking of this specimen is its large size, the most important evidence of which is the unusually large feather, the longest of which reaches 37 mm. It is 1.5 times the longest myepper feather ever found by scholars (about 24.5 mm), and based on the proportion of feathers to the body, we can roughly speculate on the individual bird represented by the specimen, from the back edge of the skull to the back edge of the cheekbone, about 10 cm in length. Scholars have two explanations for this large individual: first, the specimen represents an individual that is more mature than all previously discovered northern Amber anti-birds; Either way, it has expanded the understanding of the size of the Burmese amber bird biota.

New discovery! Chinese and foreign scientists find large ancient birds in amber

Recovery map (drawing Liu Yi)

In general, the specimen differs significantly from other northern Amber anti-bird specimens in size and feather color, and may represent more mature individuals or new genus. The new fossil record increases the diversity of the Cretaceous Burmese amber vertebrate population and helps scholars more fully restore the forest ecosystem smoldering of Cretaceous Myanmar. At the same time, it enriches the biological appearance of the anti-bird population and probes into the feather color and style of the group, so as to understand the function represented by different forms of feathers.

It is reported that the research on this subject has been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China ‘s “National Natural Science Foundation Major Projects”, “National Natural Science Foundation of China” and the National Geographic Society of the United States.