Jun 28, 2016

Dinosaur-Era Bird Wings Preserved in Amber

A 99-million-year-old wing from a toothed bird preserved in amber. The specimen includes a claw and a pale spot on the plumage.
Two wings preserved in amber from dinosaur-era, toothed birds have just been discovered, a new study reports.

The 99-million-year-old wings -- nicknamed "angel wings" and "Rose" by the researchers -- include the first examples of hair follicles and feather arrangements from the Cretaceous Period, according to the paper, published in the journal Nature Communications.

The "angel wing," under a compound microscope, show pigment banding in feather barbules, and the outline of the Cretaceous bird's claw.
The wings belonged to enantiornithine birds, a lineage that died out with dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous (145.5–65.5 million years ago).

An enantiornithine is partially ensnared by tree resin, based on the "angel wing" specimen.
"The discovery of enantiornithine wings preserved in Burmese amber provides a unique opportunity to observe these animals frozen in time with a new level of detail," co-author Ryan McKellar, curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, told Discovery News. "These specimens are as close as we have ever come to examining parts of these extinct, toothed birds 'in the flesh.'"

McKellar, lead author Lida Xing and their colleagues found the fossils at a site in the Kachin Province of Myanmar. They examined the structure and arrangement of the bones and feathers in the fossils using techniques such as synchrotron X-ray micro CT scanning.

Read more at Discovery News

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