2016 Ends With Two Major Dinosaur Fossil Discoveries

Paleontologists have discovered a feathered dinosaur tail inside a piece of amber.

While, this is not the first time scientists have discovered dinosaur feathers, this dinosaur tail is in incredible condition. The discovery was reported in the journal of “Current Biology” and illustrates the details of dinosaur feathers and how dinosaurs evolved over time.

University of Geosciences in Beijing researcher, Lida Xing, is the lead author of the study. Xing revealed that the specimen was found in Myanmar at a market. People were selling the pieces of amber reportedly explaining the amber contained some type of prehistoric plant and would make for an interesting piece of jewelry. However, Xing was able to recognize the details within the amber as a piece of prehistoric history. Xing contacted Royal Saskatchewan Museum researcher Ryan McKellar to research the new discovery.

Dinosaur Tail Amber
Dinosaur Tail encased in Amber
(Ryan McKellar/Royal Saskatchewan Museum)

Together the research team used technological instruments to analyze the piece of amber in extreme detail. Researchers argue that the feathered tail belonged to a coelurosaur – a carnivorous dinosaur that existed 99 million years ago.

In a statement, McKellar explained “The material preserves a tail consisting of eight vertebrae from a juvenile; these are surrounded by feathers that are preserved in 3D and with microscopic detail.”

Xing and McKellar are now looking for more fossils preserved in amber. “Amber pieces preserve tiny snapshots of ancient ecosystems, but they record microscopic details, three-dimensional arrangements, and…tissues that are difficult to study in other settings,” McKellar explained.

McKellar added, “This is a new source of information that is worth researching with intensity and protecting as a fossil resource.”

Dinosaur Brain
133 million year old Dinosaur brain discovered in England (Jamie Hiscocks/University of Cambridge)

There have been a flurry of recent prehistoric finds lately. Last October, paleontologists discovered a brain tissue from a dinosaur. A man found the fossil in East Sussex, England in 2004 and after researching an object that looked more resembles a rock than brain, researchers discovered the fossil actually contained blood vessels, tissue, and other features found in the outer layer of the brain. David Norman, the researcher in the study, explained, “It’s not the entire brain — it’s just remarkable preservation of soft tissues you wouldn’t expect to have preserved.”


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