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Dino tail in amber has feathers

Submitted by: Goshin @ 02:31 PM | Thursday, December 8, 2016 | (url: http://www.nytime...)

time to remake jurassic park

While most paleontologists dig up prehistoric bones from the ground, Lida Xing hunts for fossils in the amber markets of Myanmar. In 2015, he made a remarkable find: Trapped in what looked like golden glass was the feathered tail of a dinosaur.

Along with the primitive plumage, the 99-million-year-old amber also preserved soft tissue and eight complete vertebrae. The tail bones indicated that the specimen belonged to a dinosaur that was not a prehistoric bird and also provided researchers with insight into the evolution of feathers.

This is the first time that skeletal material from a dinosaur has been found in amber, Dr. Xing, who is a paleontologist at China University of Geosciences in Beijing, said in an email. He and his colleagues published their findings Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

After performing a CT scan and microscopic analysis, Dr. Xing and his colleagues realized that the feathers did not belong to a bird because the specimens tail vertebrae were not fused into a rod, as they are in modern birds. The feathers most likely belonged to a baby nonavian theropod, meaning it looked more similar to a velociraptor or Tyrannosaurus rex than to a modern bird. That said, it was probably only about the size of a sparrow.

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