First dinosaur tail found, preserved in amber

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Paleontologists have discovered the first completely preserved dinosaur tail, feathers and all, preserved in amber.

Inside the lump of resin is a 1.4-inch appendage covered in delicate feathers, described as chestnut brown with a pale or white underside. CT scans and microscopic analysis of the sample revealed eight vertebrae from the middle or end of a long, thin tail that may have been originally made up of more than 25 vertebrae. Based on the structure of the tail, researchers believe it belongs to a juvenile coelurosaur, part of a group of theropod dinosaurs that includes everything from tyrannosaurs to modern birds.



  • Jwing

    Feathers…’s amazing! Birds really are the vestiges of dinosaurs in many ways. It figures. The way I see it, when the small mammals appeared, they were able to eat the eggs of most of the large dinos. The only way to adapt was to make those feathers fly and build their nests in trees away from those ground dwelling mammals. Who knows if it’s true, but I like the idea.

  • LocalFluff

    Jwing, cute idea! Since so little is known for sure, it is wide open for speculations and new hypotheses. Sounds feasible and there’s nothing to falsify it, so it could be true.

    Spinning further on the feathered dinosaurs and speculative hypotheses, it has been suggested that birds learned humans how to talk. Language is really The thing which separates us from the animals, it allows for specialization and economy and teaching. So the idea is that birds make a lot of noise, other animals are generally silent to avoid attention from predators or scaring their pray (birds in the sky are easily visible anyway and can’t hide by shutting up, so why not sing and shout). To coordinate hunting, groups of apes shout to each other (“nothing here”, “tracks here heading north”). By imitating birds, they could camouflage their presence for their pray. Such spoken signals then evolved into words and grammar. Our language, with which even computer programming has fused, could basically be bird imitation.

    Language must’ve evolved together with the tongue and the vocal cord. The history of human society needs to go a million years back, into evolutionary time scales, to cover the whole story of how animals became humans. The depth of time and richness of events probably makes it impossible to understand what has happened using any single theory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *