Dinosaur tail found preserved in amber

A dinosaur tail, including bones, soft tissue and feathers was discovered preserved in amber recently, according to a Current Biology report published today.

Paleontologists say the tail is around 99-million-years-old.

Although individual feathers from dinosaurs have been found preserved in amber before, this marks the first time scientists have been able to clearly associate well-preserved feathers with the animals, gaining a better understanding of their evolution and structure.

The semi-translucent mid-Cretaceous amber sample, about the size and shape of a dried apricot contained is a 1.4-inch appendage covered in delicate feathers, described as chestnut brown with a pale or white underside.

CT scans and microscopic analysis revealed eight vertebrae from the middle or end of a long, thin tail that may have been originally made up of more than 25 vertebrae.

Researchers have ruled out the possibility of the sample being part of a prehistoric bird, based on the presence of articulated tail vertebrae, suggesting such feathers may have served a signaling function or played a role in temperature regulation.

The amber sample, formally called DIP-V-15103, was discovered from a mine in the Hukawng Valley in Kachin state, northern Myanmar, according to National Geographic.