By Chris King •
Published: 06 Dec 2020 • 23:34
OLDEST Mammal Hair Ever, 110 Million Years Old, Is Found In Spain, preserved in amber
Scientists who discovered mammal feathers, preserved in a piece of amber shaped like a stalactite, a few years ago, during a dig in the Santa María mine, Teruel, Aragon, eastern Spain, have now determined they could be the oldest ever found, dating back some 105 to 110 million years, to the Early Cretaceous period.
Experts, by testing microscopic scale patterns, finally concluded the feathers came from a mammal, with the feathers ‘exceptionally preserved’, through a process dubbed ‘pull off vestiture’, which they say suggests the creature at some point came into contact with the resin, probably while sleeping, or resting, in a tree, and upon waking, the resin would have dried thus tearing the feathers out from their body.
Spain is a well-known area for the discovery of Cretaceous fossils, but scientists never expected to find anything this well preserved in amber, and Sergio Álvarez-Parra from the University of Barcelona said, “The determination of both findings is very complex, but it is likely for the feather remains to correspond to the extinct birds Enantiornithes, like other feathers in amber. Regarding the lock of hair, we should consider that the surface scale pattern is similar to the current mammalian hair”.
He continued, “Ariño was already known for its vertebrate fossils, such as the dinosaurs Proa valdearinnoensis and Europelta carbonensis, but no-one thought we could find remains from vertebrates included in amber”.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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