Amber Holds 80 Million-Year-Old Feathers

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EDMONTON, Alberta, Sept. 15 (UPI) — The evolution of feathers on birds and dinosaurs 80 million years ago was captured and frozen in tree sap turned to amber, Canadian researchers say.

Scientists at the University of Alberta say the amber contains protofeathers possibly from non-avian dinosaurs as well as plumage very similar to modern birds.

The feathers were discovered by UA paleontology graduate student Ryan McKellar in amber from Canada’s most famous deposit near Grassy Lake in southwestern Alberta, a university release said Thursday.

The amber collections are held at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in southern Alberta.

Microscopic detail of the feathers and even their color, ranging from brown to black, has been preserved in the amber, the researchers said.

The finding shows numerous evolutionary stages of feathers were simultaneously present in the late Cretaceous period and plumage served a range of functions in both dinosaurs and birds, McKellar said.

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