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Enantiornithean foot and tail feather in amber (1 Viewer)


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Haven't seen this shared here yet. This is a distinct paper from the one on the feathered foot published earlier this year.

Xing, L., R.C. McKellar, J.K. O'Connor, K. Niu, and H. Mai (2019)
A mid-Cretaceous enantiornithine foot and tail feather preserved in Burmese amber
Scientific Reports 9: 15513
doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-51929-9

Since the first skeletal remains of avians preserved in amber were described in 2016, new avian remains trapped in Cretaceous-age Burmese amber continue to be uncovered, revealing a diversity of skeletal and feather morphologies observed nowhere else in the Mesozoic fossil record. Here we describe a foot with digital proportions unlike any previously described enantiornithine or Mesozoic bird. No bones are preserved in the new specimen but the outline of the foot is recorded in a detailed skin surface, which is surrounded by feather inclusions including a partial rachis-dominated feather. Pedal proportions and plumage support identification as an enantiornithine, but unlike previous discoveries the toes are stout with transversely elongated digital pads, and the outer toe appears strongly thickened relative to the inner two digits. The new specimen increases the known diversity and morphological disparity among the Enantiornithes, hinting at a wider range of habitats and behaviours. It also suggests that the Burmese amber avifauna was distinct from other Mesozoic assemblages, with amber entrapment including representatives from unusual small forms.
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