The tail of an ancient dinosaur was found encased in amber and remarkably preserved. CNN reported that Xing Lida, a Chinese paleontologist found the piece of amber at an amber market in northern Myanmar. Burmese traders thought that there was just a fragment of a plant inside. However, Lida realized that there was actually a vertebrate inside the piece of amber, which was only the size of a dried apricot.
The findings on the specimen were detailed in a paper co-authored by Xing Lida and Saskatchwan paleontologist Ryan McKellar. The paper was published in the December issue of Current Biology. McKellar is a paleontologist at the Royal Saskatchwan Museum in Canada. Paleontologist Ryan McKellar is part of “So you wanna be a dino hunter?” article in the upcoming inaugural issue of Experience The Dinosaur Trails.
Remarkably, feathers were found along with the bone fragments, which belong to a young coelurosaurian. This gives scientists further confidence that the coelurosaurian had feathers instead of scales. Furthermore, a microscopic examination of the feathers suggests that this particular coelurosaurian was probably chestnut brown and white. The coelurosaurian was a small creature that was about the size of a sparrow.
The discovery also underscores the importance of studying fossils encased in amber. Soft tissue and decayed blood were found in the fossil, and the amber also preserved the pigmentation. However, no genetic material was preserved. (Sorry, Jurassic Park fans!) This breakthrough discovery has given scientists a better idea of what a coelurosaurian looked like, and it also could lead to exciting future discoveries of fossils inside amber.