When it was first revealed that feathers from ancient birds were able to survive fossilization, it shook the scientific world. Previously, it was only thought that hard tissue could survive the process of being turned into fossils, but slowly increasing evidence was gathered that showed soft tissue such as the feathers of birds – and dinosaurs – can, in fact, survive for tens of millions of years. But that is not the only way that soft tissue can survive.
A new paper, published in Nature Communications, describes the astonishing discovery of two bird wings preserved in amber that date to around 99 million years old. The finding is vastly important: Previous evidence of fossil wings are usually preserved in only two dimensions due to the nature of fossil preservation. The odd feather has been found before in amber, but these are disassociated from the soft tissue that they once were embedded in, but not in these new findings.