Dino Find Of The Day..

17 Sep

A partial view of 16 feather barbs trapped within a single piece of Canadian amber. These specimens provide few clues about any potential bearer, but provide another view of well-preserved pigments within the deposit. The overall color of these specimens would likely have been medium or dark brown.

The Atlantic today reports on the potentially significant and rather thrilling find of possible dinosaur feathers encased in amber found in Canada.

Researchers led by University of Alberta paleontologist Ryan McKellar say these specimens represent distinct stages of feather evolution, from early-stage protofeathers to much more complex structures associated with modern diving birds. They can’t determine which feathers belonged to birds or dinosaurs yet because to find out they’d have to crack the amber and examine the feathers with an electron microscope, and they don’t have enough samples to risk it. Their findings appear in the current issue of the journal Science.

Unfortunately the article does go on to say that on the now obligatory Jurassic Park question it’s still not going to happen; the feathers probably don’t contain any DNA. The only genetic material ever found in amber was only 17 million years old, well after the age of dinosaurs.

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