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Why does this extinct bird have such a strange, long toe?

Some 99 million years ago, a small animal died with a constant elongated toe and was partially destroyed in amber. Its lower leg and foot remained undisturbed in the hardened wood resin until the old miners eventually discovered the fossil in Myanmar's Hukawng valley in 2014.

The preserved toe measures less than half an inch from knee to bell, making it 41 percent longer than next longest figure on the animal's foot. When the trader showed the curious example of Chen Guang a curator at China's Hupoge Amber Museum, they suggested that it probably belonged to an extinct lizard.

Mr. Chen believed that the remains looked like an avian species, so he looped in Lida Xing, a paleontologist at the Chinese University of Earth Sciences specializing in insects.

These varieties of special adaptations may have helped drive Enantiornithes to evolutionary success during the age of dinosaurs. At that time Enantiornithes exceeded Neornithes, the group containing all modern bird species. But it suddenly changed when a huge asteroid struck the earth 66 million years ago.

Enantiornites were wiped out with the non-avian dinosaurs, while Neornithes continued to become the different group of birds – from ostriches to penguins, eagles to hummingbirds

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