Science-- there's something for everyone

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dinofuzz in amber

Ryan McKellar and his colleagues from the University of Alberta made an intriguing discovery in the collections of Canadian museums.  Eleven of the 4000 chunks of amber in storage contained bits of feathers and protofeathers, and a handful of those can’t be identified as belonging to any living creature.

The small scraps of amber, mostly less than a centimeter across, were formed about 78 million years ago, well after the first feathered dinosaurs, or non-avian dinosaurs if you prefer.  The feathery structures may very well belong to a dinosaur, though without other features such as bone fragments preserved alongside, it’s difficult to say.

You can see a slide show of the amber-embedded feathers along with commentary here.