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The tiny Cretaceous stem-bird Oculudentavis revealed as a bizarre lizard

By Arnau Bolet, Edward L Stanley, Juan D Daza, J. Salvador Arias, Andrej Čerňanský, Marta Vidal Garcia, Aaron M. Bauer, Joseph J. Bevitt, Adolf Peretti, Susan E. Evans

Posted 10 Aug 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.09.243048

Oculudentavis khaungraae was described based on a tiny skull trapped in amber. The slender tapering rostrum with retracted osseous nares, large eyes, and short vaulted braincase led to its identification as the smallest avian dinosaur on record, comparable to the smallest living hummingbirds. Despite its bird-like appearance, Oculudentavis showed several features inconsistent with its original phylogenetic placement. Here we describe a more complete, specimen that demonstrates Oculudentavis is actually a bizarre lizard of uncertain position. The new interpretation and phylogenetic placement highlights a rare case of convergent evolution rarely seen among reptiles. Our results re-affirm the importance of Myanmar amber in yielding unusual taxa from a forest ecosystem rarely represented in the fossil record. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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