Amber trapped dinosaur feathers at different stages in their evolution

By Ed Yong | September 15, 2011 12:40 pm

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Reference: McKellar, Chattertton, Wolfe & Currie. 2011. A Diverse Assemblage of Late Cretaceous Dinosaur and Bird Feathers from Canadian Amber. Science

Images courtesy of Science/AAAS

More on feathered dinosaurs:



Comments (10)

  1. Robert S-R

    Wow. With all the feather fluff that must have been floating in the air, I shouldn’t be surprised that we have these fossils. I wonder if similar fossils have been ignored because someone didn’t, or couldn’t, realize they were looking at dinosaur feathers inside.

  2. Bill Macomber

    The authors make some interesting claims in this paper. Among them are that their “Stage II” amber-preserved filaments are “generally comparable” in size to S. millennii protofeathers.. oddly, S. millennii protofeathers are at least ~1.2 mm while their amber filaments are ~0.2 mm.. i guess in that sense a mouse is “generally comparable” in size to a ferret..

  3. amphiox

    i guess in that sense a mouse is “generally comparable” in size to a ferret..

    When the outlier is an elephant, it is!

  4. I always think of amber as having insects in it, so it’s cool to hear it has other things like dropped feathers inside. Put together like this they show a nice story.

  5. What will be the status of the DNA inside the feathers in the amber? Can we clone a dinosaur now?
    please, can we? :-)

  6. I asked Currie that! Sadly:

    “I think it is unlikely in that most of the time, amber preserves high fidelity surface details but not much inside. The biggest problem, however, is that the feathers are still rare enough (and small enough) that it is unlikely that we will even try it without having some assurance of success first.”

  7. Bill Macomber

    When the outlier is an elephant, it is!

    I assume the response is tongue in cheek. they are using size as one of a very few diagnostic characteristics , yet by their standards a bunch of filaments of any of the sizes found in nature would qualify. pretty sloppy.

  8. AG

    Now, it makes sence that dinos were warm blooded and could live near artic.

  9. Bill Gross

    I haven’t read how you’d distinguish these “proto-feathers” from fluffy ferns. I’m sure the pro’s can figure it out, but I haven’t found any good articles explaining the trail of evidence. Anyone know of any, so that I could read more on the subject?

  10. anon

    Finally! We can create Jurassic Park! I hope I can someday to see living dinosaurs


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