High throughput Solexa sequencing technology was applied to identify microRNAs in somites of developing chicken embryos. We obtained 651 273 reads, from which 340 415 were mapped to the chicken genome representing 1701 distinct sequences. Eighty-five of these were known microRNAs and 42 novel miRNA candidates were identified. Accumulation of 18 of 42 sequences was confirmed by Northern blot analysis. Ten of the 18 sequences are new variants of known miRNAs and eight short RNAs are novel miRNAs. Six of these eight have not been reported by other deep sequencing projects. One of the six new miRNAs is highly enriched in somite tissue suggesting that deep sequencing of other specific tissues has the potential to identify novel tissue specific miRNAs.