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Science

Dinosaur Feathers Found In Amber 190

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-think-I-saw-this-movie dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A stunning array of prehistoric feathers, including dinosaur protofeathers, has been discovered in Late Cretaceous amber from Canada. 'Protofeathers aren't known from any modern, existing groups of birds and therefore the most obvious interpretation is that they belong to dinosaurs,' said University of Alberta professor, Alexander P. Wolfe. The 78 to 79-million-year-old amber preserved the feathers in vivid detail, including some of their diverse colors."
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Dinosaur Feathers Found In Amber

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  • Yes! (Score:3, Funny)

    by xstonedogx (814876) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Thursday September 15, 2011 @06:25PM (#37415364)

    Can't wait for Jurassic Farms. *licks chops*

  • That would be non-avian dinosaur feathers.
  • by ideonexus (1257332) on Thursday September 15, 2011 @06:33PM (#37415442) Homepage Journal

    What's really neat is that there are now so many dinosaur/bird hybrid fossils that we don't know which one is the direct ancestor of modern birds [ideonexus.com]. There are just too many candidates for the missing link.

    The really funny is that the Creationists are spinning the overwhelming abundance of missing links to mean that none of them are missing the link.

    • That should read "none of them are the missing link". (Hangs head in shame for watching TV while commenting)
      • by Anonymous Coward

        None of them *is* the missing link.

        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          Them is some good potatoes.

          Now, please return to English class.

          • by cellocgw (617879)

            FWIW, the subject of the GP's sentence is "none," not "them." You fail English.
            And while I'm on the subject, your English teacher *flunks* you, not *fails* you.

      • Are you sure it shouldn't be "none of them is the missing link"? ;)
        • by smelch (1988698)
          I'm sure. You wouldn't say "some of them is", but you would say "some of it is". Why would none be different? It isn't singular all the time. None can mean not one ("none has eaten a rabbit of such vast size") or not any ("none of them have eaten a rabbit of such vast size"). In the sentence he is saying not any.
      • by MrKaos (858439)

        That should read "none of them are the missing link". (Hangs head in shame for watching TV while commenting)

        But of them, are the link missing none? This dinosaur stuff is really confusing sometimes.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 15, 2011 @07:17PM (#37415680)

      It's even more hilarious if you look at what was known, say, 20 years ago, before the recent discoveries and compare it to what has been found to date. Sure, since the late 1800s we had Archaeopteryx from the Late Jurassic with its odd combination of dinosaur-like features (teeth, claws, long bony tail) and flight feathers. Ignore the feathers and it looked an awful lot like a small Velociraptor-like dinosaur. Anti-evolutionary creationists mostly said it was a bird, although they weren't entirely consistent and sometimes called it a reptile. You could try to say that birds and dinosaurs were still different creatures, if you danced around some of the peculiar features of Archaeopteryx (any way you slice it, it was either a VERY weird bird or a VERY weird dinosaur). They also tried and failed to scientifically show that the feathers preserved on it weren't real.

      Then in the 1990s dinosaurs with feather-like hairy structures turned up ( Sinosauropteryx [wikipedia.org]), then long-legged and obviously not flying dinosaurs with pretty clear flightless-bird-style feathers (e.g., Caudipteryx [wikipedia.org]), then Microraptor [wikipedia.org] with asymmetric *flight* feathers on its arms AND legs (the "four-winged dinosaur") and which experiments have shown could probably glide. It still had teeth, Velociraptor-like claws and a long, dinosaur-like tail. Then the complaint was "but these are all younger than Archaeopteryx" (Early Cretaceous), which is true, but given the rarity of these sorts of fossils it's statistically unlikely that you will find them at the very first point they ever existed. Then Anchiornis [wikipedia.org] turned up in the Late Jurassic anyway, close in age to Archaeopteryx. And that's not even all of them. Inevitably there are gaps, because there always will be gaps even if you find millions of fossils (very tiny gaps), but it's fair to say that the distinction between birds and certain dinosaurs has progressively become so blurry and arbitrary that it's hard to reliably draw the line between them. Wishbones? We used to think they were unique to birds. No. Even T. rex has a wishbone. And the list goes on and on of features we thought were unique to birds but turn out not to be. People are even questioning whether the conventional view that Archaeopteryx is a bird is correct, rather than a side-branch close to the divergence between birds and dinosaurs, which if accepted would mean you could have a flying dinosaur that isn't technically regarded as a "bird". That would be weird.

      Even after all those discoveries of the last 20 years or so, anti-evolutionary creationists still assure us that there are immutable boundaries between categories of life. Scientists still do argue about the exact relationships between these various group, but it is always going to be hard to resolve close to the branch points. I think any reasonable person looking at the history of discoveries would say that we aren't seeing ever-clearer indications that birds and dinosaurs are completely distinct, but that over time they blur together more and more. This is not unique to birds either. The same sort of thing is seen if you compare, say, what was known about the transition between fish and land vertebrates in the 1800s versus the fossils that are known now. Nobody expects a perfect record of life on Earth, but the pattern with increased sampling of it is pretty obvious. To me it is no more of a jump than when you draw a regression line through an ever-increasing number of sample points along a clear trend. Meanwhile the anti-evolutionary creationists will forever emphasize that there are spaces between the data points.

      • by epine (68316)

        Very nice post from the primordial mists of the AC. As the data points accumulate, it's becoming more evident that the AC did not branch from the human race as long ago as it often seems, but still walk among us, capable of intelligent digital locomotion, possessing the full modern complement of shift keys and angle brackets.

        I've said it before: Tyrrell rocks. I grew up in the area, but only visited later in life as a tourist. When I trim my chin feathers and expose my Grenadier Guard chin wattle, I can

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I think any reasonable person looking at the history of discoveries would say that we aren't seeing ever-clearer indications that birds and dinosaurs are completely distinct, but that over time they blur together more and more.

        Creationists aren't reasonable people:. their world view is based on faith, not reason, but they try to disguise this simple fact by arguing about scientific facts as thouh it made any diference to them.

      • by Empiric (675968)
        Meanwhile the anti-evolutionary creationists will forever emphasize that there are spaces between the data points.

        Similarly, whenever my boss complains my code doesn't compile, I simply explain to him that it's just that there are "spaces between the object dependencies".
        • This is more like "we don't have the source code for the versions of the software prior to 1990, so obviously we can't know what programs back then actually looked like."
      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        then Microraptor [wikipedia.org] with asymmetric *flight* feathers on its arms AND legs (the "four-winged dinosaur") and which experiments have shown could probably glide. It still had teeth, Velociraptor-like claws and a long, dinosaur-like tail.

        Oh god, don't tell that to Monroe, imagine his reaction if he knew there were flying raptors too!

      • by tompaulco (629533)
        Meanwhile the anti-evolutionary creationists will forever emphasize that there are spaces between the data points.
        Well, who can blame them? You're correct that we can't expect a perfectly smooth fossil record, but when there is such a large sampling surrounding the data points, with nothing in between, it would be kind of suspect to a mathematician. I mean, for example, we have found 30 T Rex. We have found 11 Archaeopteryx. And it is not like all of these were found in the same location trapped in a mudb
        • Meanwhile the anti-evolutionary creationists will forever emphasize that there are spaces between the data points. Well, who can blame them? You're correct that we can't expect a perfectly smooth fossil record, but when there is such a large sampling surrounding the data points, with nothing in between, it would be kind of suspect to a mathematician.

          Not to a real mathematician, who understands statistical inference, no.

    • I think the comment from the story is telling:

      "'Protofeathers aren't known from any modern, existing groups of birds and therefore the most obvious interpretation is that they belong to dinosaurs,' said University of Alberta professor, Alexander P. Wolfe."

      • by pokerdad (1124121)

        I think the comment from the story is telling: "'Protofeathers aren't known from any modern, existing groups of birds and therefore the most obvious interpretation is that they belong to dinosaurs,' said University of Alberta professor, Alexander P. Wolfe."

        Considering the age of most fossil finds in Alberta, that isn't as crazy as you think.

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721)
    Cool discovery. We now know that dinosaurs where pretty bird-like. For example, the velociraptors from the end of Jurassic Park where actually covered with feathers. Birds descend from dinosaurs and in fact, it might be more accurate to say birds ARE dinosaurs.
    • Dear god, please don't quote Jurassic Park as a reference.....
      • I actually pointed out a flaw in Jurassic Park. I think it was made before it was realized that dinosaurs had feathers.
        • by airfoobar (1853132) on Thursday September 15, 2011 @07:00PM (#37415592)
          Good thing for ILM too, because in 1992 rendering feathered dinosaurs would have taken ages! ;)
        • You are incorrect. Jurassic Park is what popularized to the public the idea that birds descended from dinosaurs for the regular person. I remember this distinctly in the documentaries about making the movie. This was an explicit intention of Spielberg. The book may not reflect this explicitly, but the movie and CG certainly did. Spielberg's dinosaur scientific consultant's were some of the principal proponents of the 'birds descended from dinosaurs'-theory and they've gone on to be vindicated as well as he
          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Now, whenever I walk into a park I'm concerned these vicious pigeons could attack me like a velociraptor

            Cue Tom Lehrer's "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park"...

            When they see me coming, the birdies all try and hide,
            But they still go for peanuts when coated in cyaniade...

        • by quenda (644621)

          I actually pointed out a flaw in Jurassic Park.

          Oh no! Next thing you'll be telling me that velociraptors were not even Jurassic.

          • As I recall the "velociraptor" was made up. Ithink some form of raptor type dinosaur was later named "velociraptor" in honour of the movie.
            I could be wrong, but that is how I remember it.
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Dear god, please don't quote Jurassic Park as a reference.....

        To be fair, it was that film that sparked the revival of interest in cool UNIX-based 3D graphical operating systems amongst the general population, wihout which we wouldn't have Compiz today.

    • by tunapez (1161697)

      Raptors(falcons, hawks, eagles) are killing machines. If they were any bigger I don't doubt we'd make for a nice quarry. When I read JP I remember more being made out of the feather theory, I remember because it reminded me of the evil rooster that tormented me when I was 3yo.

      BTW, I've been privileged to have a family of Harris' Hawks nesting outside my bedroom window for the last 10 months. No shitting, I went to the aid of a peacock a few hours ago after they cornered him on the neighbor's porch.

    • Velociraptors were bad enough to begin with, but now you're saying they can fly? Now we're fucked.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday September 15, 2011 @06:44PM (#37415504)
    I assume Amber was refusing to walk through the TSA body-scanner and had thus been subjected to the full-body search? And people say there is no value to such searches. Look at the advances in science we are getting. Thanks, TSA!
  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Thursday September 15, 2011 @06:55PM (#37415568)
    If the dinosaurs also talked like some birds. And when they where about to eat you they menaced you by repeating the words of the last person they ate. So they'd corner you and yell, "Please don't eat me! Please don't eat me! Oh God! Nooo!"
    Kind of an out there thought but I had to share. I thought it was cool.
    • by swanzilla (1458281) on Thursday September 15, 2011 @07:17PM (#37415682) Homepage
      This is a unix system, I know this! This is a unix system, I know this! Oh god! Nooo!
      • by Intropy (2009018)
        fsn was made for IRIX systems so I guess it's not too terribly surprising that's what a bunch of CGI guys would pick when told to "Show something computery... and make it look good."
    • Clever girl...
      • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

        Except in the book it was the little boy...

        • In the book, the lawyer survived (and, iirc, was actually not a bad guy...), and Hammond was killed in a fairly disturbing fashion.

          Nevertheless, the quotes from the movie are more memorable. I don't think I can recall any of Muldoon's lines from the book...

        • yes it was (although he wasn't so little in the book) but the GP was referring to the line made by the gamewarden when he is tricked by the Velociraptors while hunting them.
    • by bar-agent (698856)

      And when they where about to eat you they menaced you by repeating the words of the last person they ate. So they'd corner you and yell, "Please don't eat me! Please don't eat me! Oh God! Nooo!"

      It's the drugs. It's the drugs, isn't it?

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      Awesome, it's similar to Predator when the alien copies bits he hears people saying and repeats them back.

      "Any time..."
  • amber with mummified spider's lung

  • Now the Raptors look like chickens.

    Dr Alan Grant: "NOOOOooooooooooo!"

    Science ruins Michael Crichton again!

    • Feathered dinosaurs in a Jurassic Park reboot could still be made scary. Look at this raptor [wikipedia.org], for example.
    • by SETIGuy (33768) * on Thursday September 15, 2011 @07:29PM (#37415748) Homepage
      Science and Michael Crichton always had a hate-hate relationship.
      • And then he blasphemed against the Holy Church of Global Warming.

        • by SETIGuy (33768) *
          There isn't a science that he didn't misunderstand. And then write 500 pages of incoherent babble about. Climatologists weren't worried about him because he was incompetent to talk about any type of science. Ask anyone who has worked in chaos theory. Or medicine. Or biotech.
      • I suspect that a number of scientists secretly love him for making their line of work popular and thus getting them significant amounts of funding.

        • by SETIGuy (33768) *
          Yeah, ask a palaeontologist how the grants got bigger after Jurassic Park. Oh what, they didn't?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by izomiac (815208)
      Timeline:
      • 1990 - Jurassic Park book released
      • 1993 - Jurassic Park movie released
      • 1998 - Feathers discovered on a velociraptor

      Now, although I enjoy Crichton's works, most are soft science fiction (harder than most though). The velociraptors were far more like Deinonychus antirrhopus (considered a species of Velociraptor by Crichton's primary source, though the dispute is even acknowledged by Alan Grant, oh, and no feathers have been found on this species), and a lot of cinematic liberty was taken in the mov

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Even going back to the "doctors with nukes" thriller of Andromeda Strain the science, technology and engineering has been a very twistable plot device. Even today we don't really have the gear that was supposed to be available in the present of "Congo" (1980) because satellite communications gear still takes time to set up for more than a tiny bandwidth, let alone under a thick dripping wet multi-layered tree canopy. In his later works he even used his influence in an attempt to discredit established scie
        • by dunezone (899268)
          A science fiction book contains information that might be wrong. Go figure.
          • by dbIII (701233)
            The issue was he pretended some of his fiction was real and used his reputation to harrass some real scientists, as I tried to write in the first paragraph above.
            At the end of his life he wrote a string of disaster novels where science was the cause and the moral was the luddite "if only we had left it alone". Those sort of books most likely inspired the "hate-hate relationship" comment from the poster above.
            The biggest clanger ultimately pushing an anti-science agenda was of course "State of Confusion" as
      • My basic respect extends as far as I think he deserves.

        When I write a misleading author's note about global warming on my next book, I'll expect no less.

        • by HBI (604924)

          Let's assume that he did mislead people. He did no less than the AGW fanatics have done...try to stampede the stupid masses into believing there was (Gore, IPCC, AGW fanatics) or was not (Crichton, Rutan, etc) an emergency that needed a response. The "best" part is that, regardless of what you might think, your side has admitted repeatedly - even Al Gore did so - that they have been exaggerating the truth and have inadequate evidence of their conclusions. The objective is to get something political done.

          • I'll happily mock anyone who is purposefully misleading.

            I also wasn't aware that choosing a 'side' meant endorsing every opinion within it.

            Luckily 'my side' includes almost every reputable scientific body in the world, which makes me feel slightly more comfortable.

    • He didn't say just how much frog DNA they had to use to fill in the gaps....
  • That Dang Amber- I keep telling her I'm gonna break up with her if she doesn't stop that kinky stuff!
  • It was announced dinosaur feathers have been found in Amber this week. High placed French official Cordell Fennevall is on record as saying that this is a 'real discovery', and all other paleontological work this year will merely be its shadows.

    Artistic renderings in this article were created by one Dworkin Barimen. All rights reserved.

  • Two jokes about women named "Amber" and none about the one true world?

    Of course there are dinosaur feathers in Amber - our dinosaurs are just shadows of them.

    This place is really going to the dogs!

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