Sometimes the best research methods don’t help: In March 2020, Jingmai O’Connor of the Institute of Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and her team published a study that found them to be nearly 100 million years old. And the only animal the size of a hummingbird in amber in Myanmar. They were originally assigned to dinosaurs or birds, but after a few months the group withdrew their study: there were justified doubts about the mission, It could have been a lizard instead. Another discovery and a corresponding study by Arnau Polit of the Instituto Catala de Paleontology Miquel Crosafonte in Barcelona and his group in Current Biology The mystery can now finally be solved.
Bolet and Co examined another specimen surrounded by amber, which turned out to be a new species, but closely related to the first discovery. Dragon OculudentavisThus the name survived with a complete skull, parts of the skeleton and soft tissue, as well as scales in fossilized tree resin. animal comes like Oculudentavis khaungraae It is from the same area in Myanmar and is 99 million years old.
With the help of computer tomography, the two samples were examined from bone after bone. Scientists have discovered certain bony features that indicate that both species actually belong to lizards. However, the animals are so bizarre that without this careful analysis, it would have been impossible to identify them unequivocally, says Politt.
The shape of the skull in particular led to confusion and erroneous conclusions: the elongated snout was reminiscent of a bird’s beak, and a very small, short-tailed pterosaur was also an option. However, the new study found some characteristics typical of lizards. The teeth are actually firmly attached to the jaw and not in cavities like dinosaurs. The eye cavities, shoulder bones, as well as the existing scales also spoke of lizards. Finally, the skull bone resembling a hockey stick dispelled all doubts: it is present in all scaled crayfish, to which lizards belong.
The original confusion was caused by the petrification process: I pressed the skull Oculudentavis khaungraae It deformed, which is why the snout looked very much like the beak and the roof of the brain was compressed. Then this area became more bird-like. Although this was also in Dragon Oculudentavis The case, but the remains of other corpses were preserved here. The group wrote that the genus is in no way closely related to birds.
Both types also show distinct differences. Dragon Oculudentavis He probably had a straight comb on the muzzle and loose skin under the chin that could bulge when excited. However, it has not yet been possible to determine where the genus classification is located on the reptile family tree, writes Bolet and Co.