A small collection of amber trapped feathers thought to have belonged to dinosaurs have been discovered in a Canadian Museum, a study has revealed.
Ryan McKellar, a graduate student at Canada's University of Alberta, discovered the samples of feathers ranging from the colors black to brown.
After exploring 4,000 specimens that were preserved in tree resin that later became amber; he took away 11 samples, which the journal Science described as the richest amber feather find from the late Cretaceous period, which was about 80 million years ago and came after the Jurassic period.
The feathers had been preserved in amber dating back to 70 millions years ago. In the study, parallels were drawn between the structures of the feathers and those of the earliest non-flying dinosaurs, however, the feathers could have still been of flying dinosaurs. The feathers display pigmentation and adaptations for flight and diving, researchers reported.
One researcher said that feathers had been found on much older fossils, but the new samples suggest that feathers continued to develop into a modern form, even after the extinction of dinosaurs.
There were no fossils or dinosaurs found in the area near Grassy Lake in southwestern Alberta where the feathers were discovered, but what was found showcases four evolutionary stages for feathers, said the study, suggesting that a range of dinosaurs and birds once nested, flew and swam there.
Only now are we beginning to understand just how diverse feather types were in the Mesozoic, roughly the age of dinosaurs from 250 million to 65 million years ago, said Mark A. Norell a dinosaur paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Meanwhile, a team at the University of Manchester in England is testing a new study, The New York Times reported. They are using an advanced X-ray method to detect geochemical traces that are biomarkers in feathered fossils.
This is an exciting technique, a powerful technique, Dr. Norell said in an interview, but it is in a very preliminary state and needs to be refined a bit.