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Dinosaur tail preserved in amber, with feathers

99-million-year-old fossil provides 3-D details

By
3:50pm, December 9, 2016
Preserved dino feather

SHAKE YOUR TAIL FEATHER  This feathered dinosaur tail is preserved in a 99-million-year-old lump of amber. Similarly stuck are several ants, a beetle and bits of foliage.

In a golden chunk of 99-million-year-old amber, paleontologists have spotted something extraordinary: a tiny dinosaur tail with pristinely preserved feathers.

At a shade under 37 millimeters, about the length of a matchstick, the tail curves through the amber, eight full sections of vertebrae with mummified skin shrink-wrapped to bone. A full-bodied bush of long filaments sprouts along the tail’s length, researchers report December 8 in Current Biology

It’s “an astonishing fossil,” writes study coauthor Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and colleagues. Researchers have found Cretaceous feathers trapped in amber before, but the new find is the first with clearly identifiable bits of dinosaur included. The tail bones of the new fossil gave Xing’s team a clue to the dinosaur’s identity. It may have been a young coelurosaur that looked

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