Myanmar artists were shaping amber into jewelry when a paleontologist spotted a feathered tail perfectly preserved in an apricot-sized piece. The tail belonged to Coelurosaur, a small dinosaur about the size of a house cat. According to this paper puplished in Current Biology, the 99-million-year-old Coelurosaur’s tail was so well protected by the amber that bones, soft tissue and even feathers were found.
The amber fossil is definitive proof that many dinosaurs were feathered and brightly colored, not scaly. Science seems to be destroying our Hollywood image of dinosaurs. A study in Evolution reports that many dinosaurs also communicated with coos, booms, and hoots, not roars.
The amazingly well preserved Coelurosaur tail is a once-in-a-lifetime find as organic material decomposes very quickly. Amber is very valuable to scientists because of its ability to stop insects and other tiny animals from decomposing. This precious stone is formed from sticky tree resin that dries and becomes fossilized. Fun fact; Scientists make use of an amber fossil to extract dinosaur DNA in the movie Jurassic Park.
Coelurosaurs belong to a group of dinosaurs called theropods, which also include the ferocious T-rex and velociraptors. Theropods are usually thought of as the “predatory” dinosaurs and are characterized by their strong hind legs and short arms.
Evidence throughout the fossil record show theropods evolving from large carnivorous dinosaurs to the birds we see today. Coelurosaur’s feathers were likely used for signaling or temperature regulation, not flight.
Irrespective of the Hollywood portrayals, these fossils show we have much to learn about dinosaurs.