Rare Dinosaur Bird Wing Found in Amber

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Source: National Geographic

Source: National Geographic

For centuries humans have wondered what dinosaurs actually looked like. Sure, we knew their basic bone structure, but we never really knew the color or texture of their skin. Did the feathers of dinosaurs resemble those of modern-day birds? Or were they completely different? Anything showcased in museums is just a best guess.

Until now.

A pair of tiny wings was found encased in amber, according to National Geographic. A study of the wings was published in Nature Communications and reveals that they likely belonged to enantiornithes, a prehistoric bird that became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period.

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The preserved wings reveal that the “layering, patterning, coloring, and arrangement of feathers” is similar to birds today, according to NatGeo. Until now, all our knowledge of prehistoric feathers and birds has come from imprints in “carbonized compression fossils” or single feathers trapped in amber, which is helpful, but usually lacks specific detail.

Source: Sites.google.com

Source: Sites.google.com

Ryan McKellar, co-author of the study and curator of invertebrate paleontology at Canada’s Royal Saskatchewan Museum, told NatGeo, “The biggest problem we face with feathers in amber is that we usually get small fragments or isolated feathers, and we’re never quite sure who produced [them].”

A CT scan revealed that the 100 million-year-old feathers belonged to juveniles and that they possibly may belong to the same species. Researchers also found that most of the wing would have been a dark brown, while the covert feathers “ranged from a slightly paler brown to silver or white bands.”

The amber was found in a popular market in Myitkyina, the capital of the Kachin state in Myanmar, where the amber is frequently used in making jewelry. The jeweler who had this pair of wings was going to fashion it into a necklace and call it “Angel’s Wings.”

(H/T National Geographic)

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