Feathered Dinosaur Tail Preserved in Amber Discovered in Myanmar

Khryss | Published 2017-02-08 05:12
Ever wondered of Dinosaurs with feathers? A specimen with such has been found inside a mid-Cretaceous (99 million years ago) amber. It is the first skeletal material of a dinosaur, other than birds, reported from amber. This feathered tail of a non-avialan theropod was found by the project’s lead researcher from the China University of Geosciences, Dr. Xing, in Kachin State, Myanmar. This amber is an essential discovery as it provides a lot more fine detail than compression fossils and preserves the specimen in 3D. It has been helping researchers to examine things like the finest branching structures in feathers, how they insert into the skin, in what way pigments were distributed in the feathers, and the possibility of other animals that might have lived in the same habitat. The individual (dinosaur) that the tail came from would have been a small creature (sparrow-sized) that belongs to a broad grouping of dinosaurs called Coelurosauria (contains everything from Tyrannosaurus to modern birds).Most members of this group are thought to be bipedal carnivores. The individual would have had pristine feathers coming off the sides of its tail, and this body part would have been fuzzy looking. And if its micrometer-scale features of the plumage ran the entire length of the tail, it would not have been an active flyer. Beneath the feathers, the carbonized soft tissues also offer a glimpse of preservational potential and history for the inclusion; abundance of Iron (II) or Fe2+ suggests traces of original material such as primary hemoglobin and ferritin remain trapped within the tail. In conclusion, this discovery provides strong evidence that many theropod dinosaurs had feathers at some point during their life and highlights the unique preservation potential of amber for understanding the morphology and evolution of coelurosaurian integumentary structures. This brings researchers closer to answering the question whether all dinosaurs were feathered or not.   Xing, L., McKellar, R., Xu, X. Currie, P. (2016). A Feathered Dinosaur Tail with Primitive Plumage Trapped in Mid-Cretaceous Amber. Current biology: CB 26(24). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.008
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