A feathered dinosaur tail has been discovered in perfect condition in Myanmar.
The unique find, preserved in amber, is believed to be more than 99 million years old.
Researchers believe the tail belonged to a feathered dinosaur about the size of a sparrow.
It was found by Lida Xing, a geoscientist from Beijing, at an amber market in Myitkina in Myanmar.
A study of the tail, which was chestnut brown on top and white underneath, was published in the journal Current Biology.
“This is the first time we’ve found dinosaur material preserved in amber,” co-author Ryan McKellar, told the BBC.
The amber encasing the tail had been polished for jewellery after the seller mistook the feature for plant material.
Xing identified the original location of the amber by tracking down the miner who dug it out of the ground.
McKellar told the BBC: “We can be sure of the source because the vertebrae are not fused into a rod or pygostyle as in modern birds and their closest relatives.”
“Instead, the tail is long and flexible, with keels of feathers running down each side.”
The scientists were able to see the bones, flesh, skin and feathers of the tail through the amber, which forms when tree resin fossilises over millions of years.
The fossil is unique in showing the feathers in a 3D rather than 2D arrangement.
It’s been a good quarter for palaeontologists. In October, scientists discovered a new species of herbivorous dinosaur in Australia.
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