Amber Dinosaur Feathers: Why Is This Discovery So Important?
You may have heard in the last few days about discovering some feathers stuck in amber, that is, on a piece of fossilized resin. The item is 99 million years old and was dated by scientists to be from the Cretaceous period, and in addition to insects and plant fragments, it holds something remarkably remarkable: the preserved bones of a young dinosaur's tail - and that's what makes it fossil so important. You know the reason?
In fact, this is not the first time prehistoric animal feathers have been found in amber, nor is it the first time fossilized rocks bearing the impression of feathers have been discovered. Indeed, it is precisely because of this evidence that scientists strongly suspected that, contrary to what has always been portrayed, instead of being scale lizards like Godzilla, many dinosaurs had their bodies covered with plumes.
However, this is the first time in history that a piece of amber is found with feathers still attached to the preserved bones of a dinosaur, finally confirming what many paleontologists had long suspected. In other words, this is the first time scientists have been able to connect the two things - feathers and dinosaurs - without any doubt.
And in addition to confirming the theory that prehistoric animals did have feathered bodies, the amber piece will allow researchers to discover a number of things about how dinosaur feathers were and how they evolved over the years. .
According to the paleontologists responsible for the discovery (Ryan McKellar of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada and Lida Xing of the University of Geosciences of China), the fossil was purchased from a Burmese street market in 2015.
The item was for sale as a mere piece of amber when scientists realized it was unheard of. In addition to being unprecedented evidence, featuring perfectly preserved bones and feathers, the piece also allows the feathers to be observed three-dimensionally and with a wealth of detail.
Scientists with their magic amber
Amber weighs a meager 6.5 grams and “holds” a tail fragment of a dinosaur that belongs to a group known as Coelurosauria - characterized by small, chicken-like predators that also encompass more illustrious creatures such as tyrannosaurs and the raptors.
That was the possible appearance of the dinosaur.
As the researchers who came across this piece of extraordinary amber explained, the dinosaur in question - nicknamed Eva by scientists - was about the size of a sparrow when it died, although this class of animals was slightly smaller than an ostrich. in adulthood.
Detail of one of the feathers
Its tail would have the shape of a rat - only feathery - and, in addition, the fossilized resin preserved the pigmentation of the feathers, allowing scientists to determine the shade of the animal, which was probably brown and white. In any case, the finding supports the theory that lizards that have touched terror in the movies may have looked much more ... fabulous than flaky.