Exciting discovery of preserved dinosaur tail in amber

Scientists discover a 99 million-year-old dinosaur tail perfectly preserved in amber.

Cryolophosaurus ellioti theropod dinosaur
Cryolophosaurus ellioti theropod dinosaur © James St John

According to a report published in the scientific journal Current Biology, the incredible appendage found trapped in amber in Kachin, Myanmar, includes bones, soft tissues, and even feathers.

The discovery is especially exciting because it’s the first time ever that scientists are able to clearly link well-preserved feathers with a dinosaur specimen.

The preserved tail could give some precious clues on the evolution and structure of dinosaur feathers.

Funded by the National Geographic Society’s Expeditions Council, the research was led by paleontologist Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences.

Researchers believe, based on the structure of the tail, that it belongs to a juvenile coelurosaur, a group of theropod dinosaurs.

The study also revealed the presence of ferrous iron which is a decomposition product from the haemoglobin that used to be present in the dinosaur’s soft tissue.

“The fact that [the iron] is still present gives us a lot of hope for future analysis, to obtain other chemical information on things like pigmentation or even to identify parts of the original keratin,” says study co-author Ryan McKellar, curator of invertebrate paleontology at Canada’s Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

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