Scientists have discovered a pair of baby dinosaur wings encased in amber from Myanmar that was originally meant to be part of a jewelry collection.
The nearly 100 million-year-old wings were found in remarkable condition in the market of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state. The two tiny wings, one 0.06 and the other 0.3 ounces, were perfectly preserved with feathers still attached.
According to National Geographic,
“The smaller of the two fossilized wing samples in the current study was nicknamed “Angel” by Xing’s team because a jewelry designer originally intended to fashion it into a pendant called “Angel’s Wings.” When the researchers analyzed the fossil, they observed truncated wing surfaces directly on the amber surface that suggested it had been chipped off of a larger amber inclusion that may have originally included the entire early bird specimen.
Still, what Xing saw in the micro-CT analysis made his heart race, he recalls: not just single feathers, but multiple feathers associated with the bony structure of an almost 100-million-year-old wing.
“It is a real angel,” the researcher proudly concludes.”
The scientists believe the wings are from enantiornithes, a group of transitional dinosaurs with teeth and claws on their wings but that otherwise resembled modern birds.
“These findings are special because it’s incredibly rare to find fossils this old and well-preserved,” Science Alert points out, adding that, “In normal fossilisation processes, feathers tend to disappear, leaving behind only difficult-to-interpret impressions on surrounding rock. And when feathers do turn up in amber, it’s usually alone and without much context. These wings though are astonishingly complete.”
In the researchers paper on the subject they also observe that it appears as if the baby dino-bird was buried alive in the amber. Claw markings around the wings suggest there may have been some kind of struggle as the ancient tree sap was hardening.
Now to burst your bubble on this discovery being one step closer to creating a real Jurassic Park, the answer is most likely no. In 2013 a study failed to extract DNA from ancient insects preserved in resin becuase even in amber, DNA degrades over time.
Exit thought from angry grandpa…
Top image: Life-size dinosaurs are delivered at the Los Angeles Zoo for the upcoming exhibit “Dinosaurs: Unextinct at the L.A. Zoo” in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.