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

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.

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