A tiny creature caught in amber 99 million years in the past isn’t the smallest dinosaur ever discovered. It’s truly a lizard — albeit a extremely weird one, researchers report June 14 in Present Biology.
Over the past 12 months, scientists have puzzled over the character of the unusual, hummingbird-sized Oculudentavis khaungraae, a fossil present in amber deposits in northwestern Myanmar. The fossil consists of solely a birdlike, rounded cranium with a slender tapering snout and a lot of tooth in its mouth, together with a lizardlike eye socket, deep and conical. The birdlike options led one staff of scientists to establish the fossil as a miniature dinosaur — the smallest ever discovered (SN: 3/11/20).
However different scientists weren’t so positive. One other evaluation of O. khaungraae’s unusual assemblage of options advised it appeared reasonably extra like a bizarre lizard.
Now, a 3rd staff of scientists stories the invention of a second amber fossil that so carefully resembles O. khangraae as to belong to the identical genus. And the brand new specimen, dubbed O. naga, contains components of the decrease physique that clearly reveal the members of genus Oculudentavis to be lizards, say paleontologist Arnau Bolet of the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont in Barcelona and colleagues.
The researchers used CT scans to look at each specimens. Oculudentavis’ lizardlike options embrace scales, tooth connected to its jawbone instantly reasonably than in sockets (as dinosaur tooth had been) and a selected cranium bone distinctive to squamates, or scaled reptiles.
Nonetheless, the creatures had been markedly totally different from all different identified lizards of their uncommon mixture of options, such because the rounded skulls and lengthy tapering snouts, the researchers say — most likely representing a beforehand unknown group of lizards.
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