A 99-million-year-old bit of amber found by a scientist at an amber market in Myanmar in 2015 has been confirmed to hold a tiny, feathered dinosaur tail.
Scientists have long believed based on fossil evidence that some dinosaurs may have been more feathery than scaly. This discovery, however, marks the first time researchers have found feathers preserved in amber with skeletal remains, allowing them to confirm the source of the feathers—in this case a baby coelurosaur, a smaller cousin of the tyrannosaurs rex.
“I have studied paleontology for more than 10 years and have been interested in dinosaurs for more than 30 years. But I never expected we could find a dinosaur in amber. This may be the coolest find in my life,” Lida Xing, a paleontologist at China University of Geosciences in Beijing, told NPR. “The feathers on the tail are so dense and regular, this is really wonderful.”
After Xing found the specimen, he persuaded the Dexu Institute of Paleontology to purchase it. He co-authored a paper on the find, published today in the journal Current Biology, with Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada curator Ryan McKellar.