Scientists have found a fragmented tail complete with feathers of a juvenile dinosaur in Burma – a finding that makes it one of the rarest fossil finds ever.
The dinosaur tail is almost intact and the feathers are in pristine condition and according to initial estimates that tail is that of a dinosaur that lived some 99 million year 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. Further scientists are also optimistic about their ability to link the fragment tail to its source. 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.