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Still Waters

Long toed ancient bird foot found in amber

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Still Waters

IF YOU COULD time-travel to Myanmar 99 million years ago, you’d see forests aflutter with toothed cousins of modern birds called the enantiornithines. From the corner of your eye, one of these ancient fliers might resemble a modern sparrow—except for its bizarrely long toes, an adaptation never before seen in any bird, living or dead.

The newly described bird, Elektorornis chenguangi, was found entombed within less than six grams of amber, scientists report today in the journal Current Biology. The lump of fossilized tree resin preserves part of the bird’s right hindlimb, as the sap evidently oozed onto the carcass. Though there are clear signs of decay—skin, frozen in time, is sloughing off the bone—the fossil also preserves the structure of the bird’s foot, including its extraordinarily long middle toes.



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I bet they solve their territorial disputes by a show of the middle toe... 


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