(CNN)The tail of a 99-million-year-old dinosaur has been found entombed in amber, an unprecedented discovery that has blown away scientists.
Xing Lida, a Chinese paleontologist found the specimen, the size of a dried apricot, at an amber market in northern Myanmar near the Chinese border.
The remarkable piece was destined to end up as a curiosity or piece of jewelry, with Burmese traders believing a plant fragment was trapped inside.
“I realized that the content was a vertebrate, probably theropod, rather than any plant,” Xing told CNN.
“I was not sure that (the trader) really understood how important this specimen was, but he did not raise the price.”
Seen under a microscope, the feathers suggest the creature was chestnut brown and white.
“It really underlines the importance of amber as an anchor for future study. We’re picking up features we couldn’t see in compressed sedimentary fossils, ” said McKellar.
Previous studies on dinosaur coloring have had to rely on the difficult task of capturing information from melansomes — tiny structures buried within feathers that give them color — and comparing them with bird feathers.
In the “Jurassic Park” movie franchise, scientists extract dinosaur DNA from blood found inside insects preserved in amber.
McKellar said that soft tissue and decayed blood from the tail were found in the amber but no genetic material was preserved.
“Unfortunately, the Jurassic Park answer is still a ‘no’ — this is firmly in the realm of science fiction,” he said.