As soon as Xing saw it, he knew it wasn't a plant.
Part of the mystery of dinosaurs with feathers is that many probably didn't use that plumage to fly.
McKellar said that soft tissue and decayed blood from the tail were found in the amber but no genetic material was preserved.
It just took us a while to figure that out because traditional fossils don't usually preserve the delicate feathers - and we only started finding them trapped in amber like this a few years ago. Had it survived, it would have grown to almost the size of an ostrich (see below).
'These are surrounded by feathers that are preserved in 3D and with microscopic detail.
The 3.5-centimetre (1.4-inch) section of tail contains eight vertebrae, remnants of soft tissue and muscle, and is furred with tiny feathers.
The structure of the feathers fills in some gaps in models of the evolution of feathers. Perhaps the little dinosaur died before resin enveloped its teeny extremity. "We've got a flexible, whip-like tail instead of one of these big, sort of plowshare-shaped tails that we see in modern birds". At the center of a long feather is the rachis, or central shaft. That suggests that the hooks, or so-called barbules, came first.
A close-up of the blade-like barbules. Credit R.C. McKellar
For years, Carrano says paleontologists have been split over a seemingly simple question: which came first, the "Velcro" that holds feathers together, or their overall structural form.
The little creature in amber points to the floppy scenario. Stages 4 and 5 see the complexity of the barbules increasingly becoming like the feathers seen on birds today. So when dinosaurs and birds evolved barbules, they unlocked a palette of brilliant colors.
The color appears to have been chestnut brown on top and cream or white on the bottom, but it is possible the colors have been altered by, and it bears repeating here, the 99 million years they've spent in the ground. "It's very close to what it would have looked like when the dinosaur was alive". The broad strokes of that evolutionary history have been painted by the fossilized feather impressions, Evans says.
"I'm really looking forward to see what's gonna be unearthed [in Myanmar] in the future", Vinther says. All we can hope for is that somewhere out there, a real-life John Hammond is getting his checkbook out.
In fact, Xing has already been back to Myanmar.
"The conflict between government forces and local armed forces in nearing an end", Xing said. The amber samples were collected by Xing and his research team at a well-known amber market in Myitkyina in Kachin State.
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Italian PM to resign after approval of 2017 budget
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