An ancient bird with an extraordinarily long toe

Why Evolution Is True

There’s a new paper in Current Biology that details the finding of a very unusual bird in Burmese amber—a bird with one huge toe and weird bristles on its feet. You can read it with UnPaywall by clicking on the screenshot below (pdf here, reference at bottom).

The specimen, uncovered by amber miners five years ago, consists of a lower right leg and foot, as well as some feathers (both those attached to the leg and flight feathers free in the amber). It dates back about 99 million years, to the middle Cretaceous, when flying birds had already evolved from reptiles. Since it was a new species (the first ever described from amber), the authors gave it the binomial Elektorornis chenguangi, with the genus name meaning “amber bird”.  Phylogenetic analysis places the species in the Enantiornithes, a bird family that went extinct without descendants at the K/T…

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