But I couldn’t fly
The study comments that, if the entire tail of the dinosaur was covered by this plumage, it could be said that the animal did not have the ability to fly, but that, at most, it could glide. These feathers, which barely form a layer of fuzz as we can see in today’s chicks, suggest that the tail belonged to a theropod from the last branches of the evolutionary tree, perhaps a manraptor primitive.
A gem for science
The fossil is part of a group of amber samples that has been the subject of research by Xing and his team. The Burmese state of Kachin, in the north of the country, has one of the largest amber productions in the world. From its mines a huge variety of fossils preserved in amber has been married. That is why many scientists go there, especially the quantity and quality of remains of ancient invertebrates is incomparable.
When Xing found the amber with the dinosaur tail, the piece had already been polished to be sold as a jewel. But that has not prevented extracting important data, such as the presence of iron, fruit of the decomposition of the blood. This fact raises hopes among researchers, who do not rule out the possibility of obtaining more chemical information in other fossils in amber. Xing hopes that the conflict in Myanmar will end soon and scientists will have better access to amber mines to prevent these fossil treasures from being lost to private hands. Dreaming is free and expectations are through the roof with this discovery, so the Chinese paleontologist even dared to affirm that:
“Maybe we can find a whole dinosaur”
It would be, without a doubt, the greatest discovery in paleontology. We will be attentive in case there is luck.
Guerrero, T. 2016. Amber preserves a 99-million-year-old dinosaur tail. the world is.
Rincon, P. 2016. The amazing discovery of a dinosaur tail preserved in amber. bbc.com.
Romey, K. 2016. First dinosaur tail preserved in amber found. nationalgeographic.es.
Xing, L. et al. 2016. A Feathered Dinosaur Tail with Primitive Plumage Trapped in Mid-Cretaceous Amber. Current Biology 26, 24, 3352-3360. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.008.