Friday, September 16, 2011

Dinosaur, bird feathers found discovered in 80-million-year-old amber provide new clues - 16th Sept 2011

We don't know exactly what dinosaurs looked like, but feathers discovered in 80-million-year-old amber provide new clues.

Paleontologists made this discovery of feather specimens near Grassy Lake in southwestern Alberta, Canada, and described the results in the journal Science.

Researchers don't know which feathers were actually from birds that flew and which might have been from theropod dinosaurs, but the filament structures resembles those seen in other non-avian fossils.

There appear to be two types in the sample: those resembling the feathers of modern birds, and "protofeathers," which are similar to the hair-like structures found in a halo around dinosaur specimens from China in early early Cretaceous rock. Those simpler feathers in the amber, which differ from what modern birds have, may have came from small, meat-eating dinosaurs.

"Short of finding a dinosaur trapped in the amber itself, it’s the best we can do," said Ryan McKellar, a paleontology graduate student of the University of Alberta and lead author of the study. Read More