In a first of its kind discovery, researchers have found fragment of a dinosaur tail complete with feathers preserved in pristine condition in amber.
Study of the fossil remains have indicated that the dinosaur to whom the tail belonged would have lived some 99 million years ago. The finding has got researchers excited because if the first ever fossil that has been recovered in its entirely. Researchers believe that by studying the tail fragment extensively they will be able to fill the gaps in our understanding of dinosaurs feather structure and evolution- something that can’t be done with fossil remains that we have found until now.
Researchers are thrilled about their discovery because it is for the first time that a tail has been found that can be linked with the source definitively. Further, the tail isn’t squashed like other fossils and this could enable scientists to learn quite a few things about dinosaur tails which squashed fossils haven’t told us about.
According to Ryan McKellar of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada, the tail consisting of eight vertebrae from a juvenile and is surrounded by feathers that are preserved in 3D and with microscopic detail. They are sure that the tail belongs to a dinosaur because the vertebrae are not fused into a rod or pygostyle as in modern birds and their closest relatives. Instead in this particular fossil, the tail is long and flexible, with keels of feathers running down each side. This indicates that the fragment of the tail is that of a dinosaur and not of a prehistoric bird.