A dinosaur tail covered in feathers has been discovered in Myanmar, perfectly preserved in amber polished for use as jewellery.
The amber, dating back 99 million years, was discovered by a Chinese paleontologist, Dr Lida Xing, at a Myanmar market. The seller thought the object locked inside the amber was a fragment of a plant, but the scientist realised it was a feathered tail. On closer inspection it was found to be the perfectly preserved tail of a tiny dinosaur, the first such fragment ever found.
“This is the first time we’ve found dinosaur material preserved in amber,” Ryan McKellar of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada, who wrote a paper with Dr Xing about the discovery, told the BBC. “We can be sure of the source because the vertebrae are not fused into a rod or pygostyle as in modern birds and their closest relatives,” McKellar explained. The tail is thought to be from a small feathered dinosaur the size of a sparrow.
North-eastern Myanmar has mined amber – the fossilised resin of prehistoric trees, in which ancient insects trapped millions of years ago often are found – for 2000 years, but the mining process usually breaks it into small pieces before scientists get the chance to study the deposits.
Astronaut John Glenn dies
The first American astronaut to orbit the Earth has died at the age of 95. John Glenn, a former Marine and later a US senator, was aboard the space capsule Friendship 7 that circled the earth in 1962, marking the moment the US caught up with the Soviet Union in space exploration.
He was a combat pilot in both World War II and the Korean war. In 1974 he was elected to the US Senate where he served until 1998. In 1998, at the age of 77, he returned to space as a member of a space shuttle crew, becoming the oldest man to go into space. Glenn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2012. Mr Obama yesterday praised Glenn, saying he had “spent his life breaking barriers” and NASA tweeted that he was “a true American hero”.
Journalist Phillip Knightly dies
Australian journalist Phillip Knightley, famed for leading the investigative team that uncovered the thalidomide scandal behind the birth defects that afflicted many thousands children in the late 50s and early 60s, has died aged 87. Knightly had great influence on global affairs during his time as an investigative journalist at the Sunday Times in London and was recognised as one of the most significant figures in 20th-century journalism. His personal career highlight was uncovering decades of tax-avoidance by a wealthy British family, the Vesteys. Knightley was twice named Britain’s Journalist of the Year.
73-year old Mick Jagger has a child
The Rolling Stones lead singer, already a great-grandfather, has become a father for the eighth time at 73. Jagger’s 29-year-old girlfriend, the ballerina Melanie Hamrick, gave birth to a boy in New York. Jagger also has five grandchildren and a great-grandchild born two years ago. Jagger’s publicist announced that Hamrick and the child are doing well and requested “that the media respect their privacy”. The child’s name has not yet been announced. – Compiled from web sources by Alicia Camilleri and Samantha Besgrove
The dinosaur tail in amber, from the website of the scientific journal Current Biology.