Friday, December 09, 2016

Dinosaur Feathers Found in Amber

Many outlets are reporting the find in Myanmar of perfectly-preserved dinosaur feathers in Amber.  From the Washington Post:
The amber hunters who dug up the segment in Burma (Myanmar) assumed the encased remains were vegetation, making the amber valuable when carved into jewelry. It probably did not occur to them that their discovery could be a dinosaur tail with secrets to tell. But a Chinese paleontologist named Xing Lida, perusing a Burmese amber market in 2015 for objects of scientific interest, recognized the amber’s true value.

“With the new specimen from Myanmar, we finally get that association between identifiable bones and feathers preserved in exquisite detail,” said Ryan McKellar of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada, a paleontologist and an author of the study, in an email to The Washington Post. Lida, McKellar and their Chinese and Canadian colleagues published an analysis of the tail on Thursday in the journal Current Biology.
How do we know it is from a dinosaur and not a bird?
X-ray images revealed that no ancient bird grew this tail. The tail tip belonged to a two-legged dinosaur called a theropod. “We can tell that this specimen came from a theropod dinosaur because the tail is flexible and the vertebrae articulate with each other, instead of being fused together to form a solid rod — which is a characteristic of modern birds and their closest relatives,” McKellar said. Specifically, the researchers hypothesized the animal was a type of dinosaur called a coelurosaur, and likely a juvenile.

Image Credit: A rendition of the coelurosaur. (Chung-tat Cheung and Yi Liu)

This further cements the link between the late Cretaceous theropods and early birds. More pieces of the puzzle.


  1. Just seen this blog post. It adds flesh to my comments here which were also emailed last night (it provides more details as to why the scientists who examined the bone concluded that it belonged to a dinosaur and not a bird - despite Answers in Genesis wanting it to have belonged to a bird):

    (I will omit you from any further emails regarding a certain YEC blogger and his excitable supporter - as you recently requested.)

  2. I've added a further post here re a new CMI article: