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Dinosaur-era feathers sealed in amber

Pigment and fine details preserved in a new collection

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11:15am, September 15, 2011

Bits of filaments and feathers trapped in amber 79 million years ago offer an unusually wide-ranging view of what late dinosaurs and early birds were wearing.

The 11 small, amber-bound specimens found in Canada span an evolutionary range of late Cretaceous fashion, from what appear to be unbranched filaments — which have been proposed as the first stage of dinosaur feather evolution — to bits of sophisticated, corkscrewy barbs like the wettable feathers on modern diving birds, a team from the University of Alberta reports in the Sept. 16 Science.

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