New dinosaur species discovered in amber could be smallest ever

Burmese amber with Oculudentavis skull Credit: Lida Xing/PA

Scientists have discovered what could be the smallest ever dinosaur from a skull trapped in amber.

The discovery of the bird-like skull was made in piece of amber from northern Myanmar dated at 99-million-year-old.

The skull from the Mesozoic era - approximately 250 to 65 million years ago - indicates the dinosaur was similar in size to the smallest living bird, a bee hummingbird.

An artist’s impression of the tiny new discovery, the Oculudentavis. Credit: Han Zhixin/PA

The findings - published in the Nature journal - measure the tiny skull at just 7.1mm in length.

Scientists describe the dinosaur as having a large number of sharp teeth on both jaws and a large eye socket similar to a lizard's eye.

Inspired by the noted features of the skill, researchers have named the animal oculudentavis khaungraae - oculudentavis means "eye tooth bird".

Images of the skull and jaw show the specific features that inspired the name. Credit: Nature Journal

Associate professor of biology at the W M Keck Science Department in the US, Lars Schmitz, said "unique unique anatomical features point to one of the smallest and most ancient birds ever found."

She added: "Amber preservation of vertebrates is rare, and this provides us a window into the world of dinosaurs at the lowest end of the body-size spectrum.

"No other group of living birds features species with similarly small crania in adults."

The dinosaur is thought to be the size of a bee hummingbird. Credit: Flickr/Blomsma Fotografie

Despite its small size, researchers believe the dinosaur was a predator suited to activity in daylight hours.

It's thought the oculudentavis khaungraae probably fed on small arthropods or invertebrates.