Dinosaur Tail Preserved in Amber

Science Fields

Amber gives another precious gift to scientists: a feathered dinosaur tail, preserved for 99 million years, allowing a detailed 3D examination of all the well-preserved structures.

The little amber piece acquired by palaeontologist Lida Xing from an amber market, weighing only 6.5 grams, revealed the tail of a juvenile dinosaur. The tail specimen included 8 vertebrae, soft tissue, and feathers, which Xing and his colleague Ryan McKellar of the Royal Saskatchwan Museum in Canada were even able to closely examine the pigments of.

The suspect? A sparrow sized Coelurosaur, chestnut brown and white in colour, possibly unable to fly due to the weaker structure of feathers when compared to birds’ flight feathers.

This unique “once-in-a-lifetime-finding” provides further proof that not all dinosaurs were covered in scales, and sheds more light on the evolution of feathers. Details of the entire study can be found in the December 2016 issue of the journal Current Biology.


  • 1. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/12/feathered-dinosaur-tail-amber-theropod-myanmar-burma-cretaceous/
  • 2. http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)31193-9