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Researchers are excited about these “strange” feathers preserved in 100 million years old amber

Feathers found in 100 million Burmese amber are so exquisitely preserved that paleontologists have been able to do a detailed study of their structure – and they are as nothing seen in living birds today. In fact, they may have acted like a kind of napkins that fall into the predator's grip as a lizard releases its tail to get its escape. The springs found in 31 Myanmar amber dating back to the Cretaceous (called Burmese amber) were analyzed by a team led by Palaeontologist Lida Xing of China's University of Geosciences in Beijing. You may remember Xing from such Burmese yellow smash hits like 100 million years old bird trapped in Amber, unlucky frogs. Captivated in amber are the oldest ever found, and of course the absolute epic. A springy dinosaur star found preserved in Amber. These springs are now on this list of specials. They are called tail currents, and they are tall feathers that extend from the tails of the old birds &#821 1; sometimes even longer than the birds themselves. Because modern birds often also have very long tail feathers for ornamental and mating purposes, it thought that was the reason that the Krypfåglar had them too. However, although we have known for the Cretaceous bird tail springs for decades, most fossil samples have been restored to be flat, making a more detailed study of their purpose a bit tricky. The yellow examples – most of which show that the springs occurred in pairs – are…

Feathers found in 100 million Burmese amber are so exquisitely preserved that paleontologists have been able to do a detailed study of their structure – and they are as nothing seen in living birds today.

In fact, they may have acted like a kind of napkins that fall into the predator’s grip as a lizard releases its tail to get its escape.

The springs found in 31 Myanmar amber dating back to the Cretaceous (called Burmese amber) were analyzed by a team led by Palaeontologist Lida Xing of China’s University of Geosciences in Beijing.

You may remember Xing from such Burmese yellow smash hits like 100 million years old bird trapped in Amber, unlucky frogs. Captivated in amber are the oldest ever found, and of course the absolute epic. A springy dinosaur star found preserved in Amber.

These springs are now on this list of specials. They are called tail currents, and they are tall feathers that extend from the tails of the old birds &#821

1; sometimes even longer than the birds themselves.

Because modern birds often also have very long tail feathers for ornamental and mating purposes, it thought that was the reason that the Krypfåglar had them too.

However, although we have known for the Cretaceous bird tail springs for decades, most fossil samples have been restored to be flat, making a more detailed study of their purpose a bit tricky.

The yellow examples – most of which show that the springs occurred in pairs – are beautifully preserved in all three dimensions. So the team has been able to distinguish its strange morphology and understand a little about how they could have been used by the birds.

“How we interpreted these springs from compression fossils were basically completely wrong. Those in three dimensions preserved in yellow were I surprised,” said Paleontologist Jingmai Connor from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing Science .

“They are the strangest feathers I have ever seen. “

Dominated by rachis or the central axis of the feather (the other name they are known of, rachis dominated feathers or RDF). However, as scientists have now found, this rachis is quite different from the closed cylinder seen in modern birds.

Rather, it’s open on the underside – like a C or U shape – with fewer hooks on either side than modern feathers. Rachis can also be incredibly thin – less than 3 microns in some cases (a human blood cell is on average

Rackin’s thinness and shape lead scientists to believe that the springs would have had a lower energy cost to grow – a desirable feature if the springs are available as clues indicate.

For example, some spring patterns Omger RDFs indicate that the spring hit soup soup with some force while others were found without signs of a dead bird nearby. According to the researchers, suggest Both of these characteristics mean that the springs were easy to remove.

They were not as colorful as you would expect from a sexy tail feather.

“The apparent light removal and muted colors observed in amber RDF can indicate a victim role in the defense, as well as the usefulness of visual signaling,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

“The reduced amount of materials involved in building an elongate RDF with an open and thin-walled rachis may have helped reduce the energetic costs of producing springs that were in many cases as long as their wearer’s total body length.”

However, the foreign form of the straight wrinkle seen in these springs gives more questions – whether the RDFs evolved from normal feathers or if they followed another development path.

This question, however, will require studies of a larger number of RDF ravine samples of exceptionally high quality to respond. Fingers crossed scientists can take care of some soon.

The team’s research has been published in the Journal of Palaeogeography .

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