In a first, fossil dinosaur feathers found near the South Pole
The ancient plumage hints at how small carnivorous dinosaurs weathered long, cold winters inside the Antarctic Circle 118 million years ago.
Ten exquisitely preserved fossil feathers found in Australia represent the first solid evidence that feathered dinosaurs lived at Earth’s poles, paleontologists report in an upcoming study in the journal Gondwana Research.
The feathers date back 118 million years to the early Cretaceous period, when Australia was much farther south and joined with Antarctica to form Earth’s southern polar landmass. Although the environment would have been warmer than Antarctica today, the dinosaurs that sported this plumage probably endured many months of darkness and potentially freezing temperatures during winter. (By the late Cretaceous, Antarctica was warm enough for South American sauropods to trek across the south polar region and into Australia.)
“Fossils feathers have never been found in polar settings before,” says