- The tail came from a dinosaur, not a bird.
- The amber was dated to have originated from the Cretaceous Period.
- The specimen could give new insights in the development of feathers and birds.
There was an incredible discovery uncovered in Myanmar as a 99-million-year old dinosaur tail was found preserved in amber. The tail containing soft tissue, vertebrae, and even feathers was discovered were discovered in the unlikeliest of places, the amber markets of Myanmar.
Most paleontologists make their discoveries in rocky deserts with an abundance of sedimentary rocks brimming with fossilized remains. However, Lida Xing is not your average paleontologist. While her colleagues bake under the hot desert sun, she takes strolls in the amber markets of Myanmar.
Soft Tissue And Feathers Found Preserved In Amber
It was in these fossilized tree sap that she also made a groundbreaking discovery. Trapped inside the glass-like substance was a preserved tail with feathers.
According to the NY Times, the tail bones indicated that the specimen was not a prehistoric bird but a feathered dinosaur. The discovery not only gave paleontologists new insight to these prehistoric creatures but also gave clues to the development of feathers.
The presence of feathers in the tail also suggests that the specimen was capable of flight. The species from which the tail is from has yet to be identified, however.
Specimen Could Be Used To Bring The Species Back To Life?
According to National Geographic, the amber sample has been formally called DIP-V-15103 and nicknamed “Eva” after paleobotanist Eva Koppelhus. The sample came from the amber mines of Hukawng Valley in Kachin state, northern Myanmar. Amber from this region contains a wide variety of plant and animal life from the Cretaceous period from which the specimen is from.
“This is the first time that skeletal material from a dinosaur has been found in amber,” says Dr. Xing. The paleontologist from the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and her colleagues published their findings in the in the journal Current Biology.
The dinosaur’s preservation was thanks in part to its small size. The specimen was likely a baby non-avian theropod no larger than a sparrow. After its death, it was covered in tree resin which hardened to become the plastic-like substance called amber which can survive for millions of years.
Nonetheless, live dinosaurs are still just the objects of film fantasy for the moment.
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) December 8, 2016
Dinosaurs had feathers. My mind is blown! https://t.co/daKvbcHFYw
— Tilian (@tilianpearson) December 9, 2016
A baby dinosaur got trapped in amber. 99 million years later, a Chinese paleontologist found its tail in a market. https://t.co/OcfWu7thMZ
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 10, 2016