Fossil find reveals first dinosaur skeleton in amber
Exquisitely preserved bones and feathers from the tip of a dinosaur tail have been discovered in a piece of 99-million-year-old amber, found by a palaeontologist hunting for fossils in a Myanmar market.
The "astonishing" fossil contains the first skeletal remains of a dinosaur ever found preserved in amber, according to an international team of scientists writing in the journal Current Biology.
Spotted at the amber market last year by palaeontologist Dr Lida Xing, the tail fragment is believed to have belonged to a young dinosaur about the size of a sparrow that lived in the mid-Cretaceous period.
The amber was originally assumed to contain some sort of plant material and was destined to become jewellery, but Dr Xing of the China University of Beijing realised its scientific significance.
His colleague Dr Ryan McKellar, a co-author of the research paper, said it was fortunate that Dr Xing was on the scene.
"It's one of those things where if there hadn't been the right person on the ground at the time, I think it would have disappeared into a private collection or gone entirely unnoticed," said Dr McKellar of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada.
Close inspection of the fossil with a microscope and CT scanning revealed stunning 3D detail of feathers sprouting from either side of a central rod.