[PHOTOS] ‘Once In A Lifetime Find’: Dinosaur Tail Found Trapped In Amber – 3%
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[PHOTOS] ‘Once In A Lifetime Find’: Dinosaur Tail Found Trapped In Amber

Amber is often prized not just for its golden beauty, but also for the tiny creatures it contains, many of them millions of years old. Now, a chunk of this fossilized tree sap found at a market in Myanmar has turned out to contain a very rare treasure indeed: a slender piece of feathered tail that belonged to a small bipedal dinosaur that lived about 99 million years ago.

“Since Jurassic Park came out, paleontologists have joked about finding dinosaurs in amber, since it would contain so much extra information. And now we have a piece of one,” says Thomas Holtz, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland in College Park who was not involved in the study.

The amber adds to fossil evidence that many dinosaurs sported feathers rather than scales.

The amber adds to fossil evidence that many dinosaurs sported feathers rather than scales.

Xing contacted paleontologist Ryan McKellar of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina, Canada, and the team used photographs taken through microscopes and computerized tomography scanning (computer-processed combinations of images taken by x-rays at different angles to reveal interior details of the fossil) to study the eight preserved vertebrae and their feathers.

Unlike Archaeopteryx (a 150-million-year-old creature thought by many researchers to be among the very earliest birds) or modern birds, the vertebrae were not fused into a solid rod at the tip of the tail. Instead, the tail in amber is whiplike and flexible, bending in several places at once. That, the researchers report online today in Current Biology, suggests that its owner was not a bird but in fact a dinosaur, and likely a member of a group of small two-legged dinosaurs called coelurosaurs. (Jurassic Park fans, take note: Compsognathus—nicknamed “compys” in the movies—are a member of this group.)

Source: Science Mag

 

 

 

 

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