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Dinosaur Feathers (in amber)

  1. Dec 9, 2016 #1


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    A peice of dino tail was found in amber in Myanmar.
    It shows detailed 3D structure of dinosaur feathers from 99 million years ago.
    Not a surprise but cool.
    Has more clear indications of what their colors might have been.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2016 #2
  4. Dec 9, 2016 #3


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    Guess its time to redo the Jurassic Park films now!
    More Dino realism!

    Someone tell Spielberg, I don't have his number.
  5. Dec 9, 2016 #4
    I see 4-ft tall raptor roadrunners in my yard soon, to say nothing about a corner on cock fights.
  6. Dec 9, 2016 #5
    Pretty awesome find. Too bad it's so small. What exactly can we learn from this? Possible to extract anything?
  7. Dec 9, 2016 #6
    Amber is one of the better preservatives of DNA, so dinosaur extracting DNA in amber might be possible, but there has been no success so far in extracting DNA from any animal. Some studies looking into DNA from flies in copal, a pre-amber material, failed. While amber preserves DNA longer than other "fossilization" processes, the DNA still breaks down. If there were partial sequences remaining, putting together a longer string much less a complete genome is probably impossible. Pushing the age of the specimen back to Cretaceous time is just adding more time for degradation. Attempts to extract DNA for the La Brea tar pits has been largely unsuccessful as of a couple years ago, although there was one report from the 1990's where saber-toothed tiger DNA was isolated. The problem at La Brea is with asphaltification of material. I wonder if something like that could happen between the organic compounds in amber and tissue from the specimen.

    That being said, on the optimistic side, there might be enough fragmented nucleotide sequences that might allow some sort of synthesis and filling in gaps.
    We never had any reason to study Cretaceous or Paleogene ambers in any exploration work, so I don't have any data base to work with.
  8. Dec 9, 2016 #7


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    Yeah, dozens of sparrow sized dinos running wild, the horror! :-p
  9. Dec 9, 2016 #8


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    mostly details, but it provides information on these issues:
    1) 3D feature structure: they are not flattened out so the 3D structure of the feathers is more apparent and less interpretive. Detailed to the micron level (10-6m).
    2) People have been trying to figure out colors of fossil animals for a while. They usually rely on microscopic examination of the fossil to try to see what the pigment cells look like (if they are preserved) and by analyzing what remains of pigmentation chemicals left in the fossil. With these features they can get a more direct idea of what colors they might have been (brown on top, lighter underneath).
    3) Also the tail structure shows its a dinosaur not a bird, so the features have a strong association with a dinosaur rather than a bird.
    4) It also fits into an established evolutionary-developmental scheme of how feathers develop and evolved, thus confirming it so some extent.
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