Scientists have found a fossil of the smallest dinosaur that ever existed

Scientists reportedly have found a fossil of the smallest dinosaur that could have ever existed. The fossil was found in a 99-million-year-old amber in northern Myanmar. One of the scientists added that this is the weirdest fossil ever that she worked upon. Publishing the findings to the journal Nature, the team reported that this smallest fossil is similar to the size of bee hummingbird. This is shedding light on how small birds could have evolved from bigger dinosaurs. The smallest dinosaur like the Microraptor can weigh hundreds of grams, and this tiny hummingbird dinosaur weighs about only 2g.

Illustration by HAN ZHIXIN

The insight of the animal

The new species named Oculudentavis khaungraae could have faced real challenges in its period. One of the unique features of the animal is its eye. Birds have scleral rings to support the eye. Such individual bones in birds called scleral ossicles are fairly square, but here in this animal, it is spoon-shaped, which is present only in certain lizards. This led to forming the bones of the eye in the form of cone-like as in owls. But unlike them, the eyes were projecting sideways, and ossicles prevented light from entering the eye. This proves that this animal was highly active during the day.

Illustration showing the number of teeth.

In addition to this, the creature’s eye bulged out to such an extent seen in no other mammal making it difficult to determine its function. Also, these creatures possessed large teeth, which tell us that they predated on insects. Not much of the soft tissue was preserved, but remarkably the creature’s tongue was intact, which can yield some facts about the animal’s biology. Also, this has thrown light on researchers that amber can be an excellent medium for preserving fossil specimens.

Fossil encased in the amber. Courtesy- LIDA XING

The geographical pressure might have lead to miniaturization, and this amber would have been formed at an ancient island arc. Fossils like these help us understand how miniature dinosaurs would have thrived through these tropical forests.

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Source: BBC

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