Posted: January 16, 2012, 5:45 p.m. PST
Researchers Ryan C. McKellar, Brian D. E. Chatterton, Alexander P. Wolfe and Philip J. Currie studied 80-million-years-old amber from southern Alberta, Canada and found feathers contained inside. “Feathers are really common in much younger amber, after the extinction of the dinosaurs,” explained Mark A. Norell of the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Norell wrote the commentary report “Fossilized Feathers,” which complemented the paper, “A Diverse Assemblage of Late Cretaceous Dinosaur and Bird Feathers from Canadian Amber” that the researchers wrote.
“What’s interesting about these feathers is that they represent stages of the evolution of feathers, all the way from very primitive feathers that are basically hollow, bristle-like tubes to feathers that you would see on a modern bird.”
These amber fossils give new insight into how feathers evolved in dinosaurs and late Cretaceous birds. The amber also preserved the color of the feathers, which revealed that dinosaurs and ancient birds may have had feathers just as colorful as those seen on modern birds.