Amongst the animals to ever walk the surface of the earth, dinosaurs never cease to exist in the minds of many.

Whenever dinosaurs are mentioned, we often picture large creatures like the T-Rex or the Apatosaurus. And when we imagine the small ones, we picture the Velociraptors which still weighs around 180 pounds, but no one ever pictures a dinosaur as little as 1.5 cm.

Well, the narrative soon changed when Archaeologists in Myanmar discovered the preserved skull of the smallest dinosaur to ever live on earth.

This dinosaur was found entombed in amber – a bird-like creature, not bigger than the smallest birds alive today, that lived for nearly 100million years ago.

40 Razor-Sharp Teeth Found Intact

According to the researchers in the journal – Nature, the fossil is only 1.5centimeters long from the back of the head to the tip of the snout. It’s just about the width of a thumbnail.

Archaeologists explained that the skull is almost the same size as the bee hummingbird, which is most active during the day.

With the upper and lower jaws stacked with 40 razor-sharp teeth, it has contains the most teeth ever found in an ancient bird.According to the researchers, the dinosaur is lighter in weight than a dime.

This newly found dinosaur preserved within the amber during the Mesozoic era is represented by nothing other than a skull.

From its tiny and sharp teeth to its ringed eyes bones, the skull is a little more than half an inch.

The dinosaur had bulbous eyes that shot out from the sides of its head rather than straight like that of an owl or a human.

Some researchers believe that the dinosaur’s skull is smaller than the skull of a bee hummingbird.

These researchers also believed that the dinosaur belongs to a group of dinosaurs that evolved into modern birds.

It was named Oculudentavis Khaungraae, the Latin words for “eye tooth and bird.”

A Senior Professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing Jingmai O’Connor, said:

“When I first saw this specimen, it blew my mind. I have never seen anything like this.”

She further stated that there are over 100 teeth present in the jaws. These weird eyes were sticking off, looking to the side. There is nothing like this alive today.

Although Ryan Carney, a paleontologist at the University of South Florida, wasn’t directly involved in the study, described this discovery as one of the rarest and most spectacular of finds. He said:

“This is truly one of the rarest and most spectacular of finds! Like capturing Cretaceous lightning in a bottle, this amber preserves an unprecedented snapshot of a miniature dinosaur skull with exciting new features.”

Experts suggest that this discovery is an eye-opener. It will provide insights into the evolution of modern birds.

They believe that this prehistoric bird was a predator that most likely fed on insects and other small invertebrates.

According to O’Connor,

“Oculudentavis was just weird. The fact that the skull is very fused, the fact that it has lots of teeth, the fact that it has these enormous eyes all suggest that, despite its teeny, tiny size, it was a predator.”

Lars Schmitz, an associate professor of Biology at Scripps College, also believes that this creature, which likely inhabited other Islands before Myanmar, will help provide answers to various inquiries about dinosaurs. He says:

“This find is certainly one of a kind. The shape you see there that isn’t seen in any other bird or any other dinosaur.”

He further stated:

“One of the key messages from this study is that we are missing a big chunk of the ecosystem of dinosaurs. We don’t know a lot about tiny things in the age of the dinosaur.”

Researchers have, however, revealed that Oculudentavis’ classification is difficult because of its composition.

“Although Oculudentavis does seem to be a bird, I wouldn’t be surprised if it falls in the bird part of the dinosaur family tree.”– Daniel Ksepk, Bruce Museum Palaeontologist.

A Mysterious Transformation

Ed Stanley, a researcher at the Florida Museum of Natural History who was not part of the team that discovered the 1.5 centimeter dinosaur, highlighted the difference between this an ancient creature and birds. He said:

“The interesting thing about this is how, unlike a bird, this looks. It doesn’t look like any bird I have ever seen.”

Dr. Stanley believes that the specimen is a Pterosaur. With other researchers hoping with the fossil being a dinosaur, he stated that the rest of the body, if found, will determine what the Oculudentavis looked like. Dr. O’connor also said, ‘It’s just a skull. And there are no features preserved in it that are like ‘this is avian.’

Slower Rate Of Fossilization In Amber Helped Preserved The 100 Million-Year-Old Skull 

During the study, it was noted that the fossilization process in clay or sand normally destroys the remains of small animals like the Oculudentavis. Still, the amber happens to be better at preservation than sediment.

Lars Schmitz, a biologist at the W.M Keck Science Department, revealed in a press release that:

“Amber preservation of vertebrates is rare, and this provides us a window into a world of dinosaurs at the lowest end of the body size spectrum.”

The discovery of these fossils also reveals that scientists’ snapshot of the fossil ecosystem in the age of dinosaurs is incomplete, thus leaving many questions about this discovery unanswered.

O’Connor is also of the opinion that the ember in which the dinosaur was entombed in was responsible for the preservation of its nearly-intact skull.

“When you have an animal preserved in amber, it looks like it just died yesterday – all the soft tissue in place trapped into this little window into an ancient time.”

As a result, the fossil still contains some of its soft tissue as the resin that surrounds and preserves the creature at the point of death protected it from decaying.

With this discovery, the refined technologies used to study amber samples will also help paleontologists reveal a better picture of ancient vertebrate biology and physiology.

O’Connor also added that there are still several backlogs of amber samples to study, and more amazing discoveries are underway.

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