Early Bird Plumage

After rummaging through thousands of amber inclusions housed at the University of Alberta and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Canada, researchers discovered 11 amber encased-feather fossils that provide the most detailed picture yet of early feather evolution.

By | September 15, 2011

Researchers were surprised by the complexity of feather structures already present during the Late Cretaceous period (100-65 million years ago), such as this amber-encased specimen consisting of 16 clumped feather barbs.

Researchers were surprised by the complexity of feather structures already present during the Late Cretaceous period (100-65 million years ago), such as this amber-encased specimen consisting of 16 clumped feather barbs.

IMAGE © SCIENCE / AAA

Early Bird Plumage Image Gallery

After rummaging through thousands of amber inclusions housed at the University of Alberta and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Canada, researchers discovered 11 amber encased-feather fossils that provide the most detailed picture yet of early feather evolution. The feathers likely adorned early birds and non-avian dinosaurs living between 70 and 85 million years ago—back when the Western Canadian landscape was a wetland covered in coniferous forests—and they represent various stages of feather evolution: from primitive single filaments, to multiple filaments joined through a single stem, to the intricate hook-like barbules found in modern birds. In addition to preserving minute, structural details often not appreciated in traditional fossils, the amber inclusions also preserved color.

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Comments

Avatar of: JohnnyMorales

JohnnyMorales

Posts: 9

September 16, 2011

This is truly amazing.

But even more astounding is no one thought to look for this before.

Regardless it's impressive, now that it is being done.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 16, 2011

This is truly amazing.

But even more astounding is no one thought to look for this before.

Regardless it's impressive, now that it is being done.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 16, 2011

This is truly amazing.

But even more astounding is no one thought to look for this before.

Regardless it's impressive, now that it is being done.

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