<p><strong>Preserved for 70 to 85 million years, these feathers are part of a newly revealed trove of likely <a href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/prehistoric/">dinosaur</a> and <a href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds.html">bird</a> plumage found trapped in amber in Alberta, <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/canada-guide/">Canada</a>.</strong></p><p>The unusual find suggests a wide array of plumed creatures populated the time period—sporting everything from seemingly modern feathers to their filament-like forebears—and that even by this early date, feathers had become specialized, for example, for diving underwater, a new study says.</p><p>But perhaps what's most striking about them, said paleontologist Julia Clarke, is their ability to make the past present.<br> "You feel the expanse of time separating you from these feathers seem to fall away," said Clarke, of the University of Texas, who wasn't involved in the study.</p><p>"They look like something you could touch and that might have just fallen off yesterday. They aren't like the stony blocks you think of with most fossils."</p><p>(<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/01/photogalleries/100127-new-dinosaur-colors-feathers-nature-pictures/">Pictures: Dinosaur True Colors Revealed by Feather Find</a>.)</p><p><em>—Brian Handwerk</em></p>

Scientific Gold

Preserved for 70 to 85 million years, these feathers are part of a newly revealed trove of likely dinosaur and bird plumage found trapped in amber in Alberta, Canada.

The unusual find suggests a wide array of plumed creatures populated the time period—sporting everything from seemingly modern feathers to their filament-like forebears—and that even by this early date, feathers had become specialized, for example, for diving underwater, a new study says.

But perhaps what's most striking about them, said paleontologist Julia Clarke, is their ability to make the past present.
"You feel the expanse of time separating you from these feathers seem to fall away," said Clarke, of the University of Texas, who wasn't involved in the study.

"They look like something you could touch and that might have just fallen off yesterday. They aren't like the stony blocks you think of with most fossils."

(Pictures: Dinosaur True Colors Revealed by Feather Find.)

—Brian Handwerk

Photograph courtesy Science/AAAS

Pictures: "Incredible" Dinosaur Feathers Found in Amber

Prehistoric dinosaur and bird feathers, perfectly preserved in amber, are shedding light on the evolution of feather form and function.

Read This Next

Can science help personalize your diet?
Hogs are running wild in the U.S.—and spreading disease
Salman Rushdie on the timeless beauty of the Taj Mahal

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet