The finely preserved feathers, tissue and bones from a 99-million-year-old dinosaur have been discovered in a piece of amber that a scientist came across in a Myanmar market.
The prized fossil contains the first skeletal remains of a dinosaur ever found preserved in amber, according to the journal Current Biology.
Palaeontologist Dr Lida Xing, of the China University of Geosciences, was visiting the amber market when she spotted the fragment, believed to have been part of a young dinosaur about the size of a sparrow.
The semitranslucent amber sample from the mid-Cretaceous period is about the size and shape of a dried apricot.
Inside the lump of resin is a 3.5cms appendage covered in delicate feathers, described as chestnut brown with a pale or white underside.
Hidden among the feathers of the tail are eight to nine tiny vertebrae.
The specimen could help scientists better understand how feathers developed as dinosaurs evolved into birds.
Dr Ryan McKellar, a co-author of the research paper, said it was a significant find.
“It’s the most important specimen to date, because it’s one of the few specimens in amber where we can say for sure, we’re dealing with a particular group of animals, we can narrow it down,” he said.