by Matthew Cobb
This popped up on my FB page, shared by a pal, ‘Spider’ Dave Penney. It’s a piece of Lower Cretaceous amber from Burma (Myanmar), which was dated with U-Pb dating of Zircons as 98.79 ± 0.62 Ma. As you can see, it is amazing and contains about 16 small wing feathers, apparently still attached to a piece of wing bone or skin.
Note: I have removed this photo because I received information that the photograph was copyrighted and that the specimen, now owned by another museum, is under study and doesn’t wish to have the photograph shown until publication. I will respect those wishes and have removed the photograph.
I will restore the photograph when the publication is out.
The picture was posted by Günter Bechly of Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart. Günter says:
Our trader informed me yesterday, that he could potentially acquire the sensational piece shown in the attached photo. (…) This is an absolutely unique fossil and should be secured for science (certainly worth a Nature paper). The trader would offer the piece for 15.000,- Euro + VAT. Since our focus is on fossil arthropods and we have no specialist for fossil birds/dinosaurs at our museum, I want to bring this unique fossil to your attention. If any scientist can acquire it for his institution or knows somebody at a public institution who could acquire it, please contact me (email@example.com) as soon as possible, because the trader will buy the piece in Burma only if he knows that he can resell it soon. The trader has an excellent reputation in Germany and would of course give a money back guarantee that the piece is not a fake and was legally exported from Burma.
I don’t suppose Professor Ceiling Cat wants to turn WEIT into a kind of fossil E-bay, but this is a remarkable piece that some readers may be interested in acquiring for their institution. It also, of course, raises issues both ethical, about the trade in fossils, and scientific, in terms of the nature of the beast that cast those feathers… Chip in below. Zero marks to the first commenter who mentions Jurassic Park: we’ve already discussed that.