There when was a little bird, smaller sized than a sparrow, that lived about 99 million years back. And it had a freakishly long toe.

Scientists discovered the ancient bird’s best leg and foot protected in a portion of amber. Its 3rd digit is 9.8 millimeters long, about 41 percent longer than its second-longest digit– and 20 percent longer than its whole lower leg. This foot morphology is special amongst any recognized bird types, whether contemporary or Mesozoic, the group reports online July 11 in Present Biology Although it’s unclear what function the extra-long toe served, the digit might have assisted the bird discover food in hard-to-reach locations, such as through a hole in a tree.

The group, led by paleontologist and regular amber-fossil finder Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences in Beijing, compared the toe size ratios of the fossilized bird with those of 20 other birds that lived throughout Mesozoic, the period that covers in between 252 million and 66 million years back, in addition to with toe size ratios of 62 living types. Although some contemporary tree-dwelling birds do have actually extended 3rd digits, none of the other birds living or extinct have rather such a remarkable distinction in toe sizes, the group discovered.

amber bird toe