Scientists have found the first feathered dinosaur tail amazingly preserved in amber.
A 99-million-year-old dinosaur tail that is fully intact, including bones, soft tissue, and feathers has been found well preserved in amber, according to a report published in the the journal Current Biology.
While feathers from the dinosaur era have been found in amber before, evidence of the existence of feathered dinosaurs was only speculated from fossil impressions. This is however, the first time scientists have tangible proof that dinosaurs, at least some, were feathered. The dinosaur tail is so well protected by the resin that scientist can study it and gain better insights to the evolution and structure of dino feathers.
The 1.4 inch dinosaur tail covered with delicate feathers was found inside a lump of amber that resembles a dried apricot. CT scans and microscope analysis of the tail showed that it was composed of 8 vertebrae (back bones), coming from the middle or end of a thin tail that could’ve been as long as 25 vertebrae or more.
The researchers believe it to belong to a young coelurosaur, part of a group of theropod dinosaurs that includes everything from tyrannosaurs to modern birds. Since the fossil has individual vertebrae, scientists ruled it belonging to a prehistoric bird, since both modern and ancient birds have a set of fused tail vertebrae called a pygostyle that enables tail feathers to move as a single unit.
Still, studies have ruled out the possibility of flying dinosaurs even if its entire body was covered in similar feathers. The feathers on the dinosaur might have played a role in its body temperature regulation instead.
Source: National Geographic