If you ever dreamed of a real life Jurassic Park — minus the dinosaur attacks — you might be excited to know scientists found a genuine dinosaur tail trapped in amber.
Chinese paleontologist Xing Lida made this discovery in an odd place. Rather than unearthing it on a dig, he found it at a market in Myanmar on a stall selling pieces of raw amber to be made into jewelry.
The piece of amber was only the size of an apricot, and the dinosaur the tail came from was far tinier than you’d expect a dinosaur to be, so the seller thought it was just a bit of plant matter trapped inside, along with a number of insects.
This dinosaur tail was a once in a lifetime discovery
Many of Lida’s fellow paleontologists are calling this a once in a lifetime discovery. This includes Ryan McKellar who co-wrote a paper with Lida on his discovery.
This is the first time any part of a dinosaur has been found in amber.
Lida and McKellar are definitely going to be able to dine out on this for the next few years!
The tail is thought to belong to a young coelurosaurian. This is a dinosaur from the same family as the velociraptor and the t-rex.
However, this adorable guy was only around the size of a sparrow.
It doesn’t sound too threatening, but you still wouldn’t have wanted to get on its bad side!
Dinosaurs probably weren’t scaly
If you’ve been keeping up with the latest dinosaur discoveries, you’ll know many scientists believe dinosaurs weren’t scaly. Instead, new evidence suggests a lot of dinos were covered in feathers.
So, dinosaurs might have been less “terrible lizards” and more “hecking giant birds.”
If you look closely at the dinosaur tail, you can see it’s covered in tiny feathers, supporting the feathery dino theory.
“The more we see these feathered dinosaurs and how widespread the feathers are, things like a scaly velociraptor seem less and less likely and they’ve become a lot more bird like in the overall view. They’re not quite the Godzilla-style scaly monsters we once thought.”
So, it looks like someone might have to re-illustrate a whole lot of dinosaur books!
It also might make an afternoon of birdwatching seem more interesting. It’s much cooler to think of the sky filled with tiny dinosaurs, after all.
So, could this lead to a Jurassic Park style scenario?
The short answer is, “No.”
So, no need to start saving for a trip to the world’s first dinosaur theme park.
The half-life of DNA is just 521 years. And, since dinosaurs died out around 65 million years ago, that means any dino DNA will have long since degraded.
But, we all know how the movies ended, so it’s probably for the best, to be perfectly honest!