Amber Secrets: Feathers from the Age of Dinosaurs


Prized amber gems began their journey through deep time in liquid form— as resin secreted by trees, likely in response to injury. This liquid “Band- Aid” served as a natural sticky trap for capturing a portion of the ecosystem that could not be preserved in such detail in any other manner.

Except in the rarest cases, the fossilization process is not a gentle one—it favors the largest and most durable. Delicate or small things are “forgotten” by the process. The copious ancient resin that trapped and drowned fragments of these ancient landscapes served as the most faithful and gentle of funeral directors. Details normally not preserved in fossils are plainly visible.

Amber Secrets, Feathers from the Age of Dinosaurs features over 100 of some of the most exquisite specimens dating as far back as 99 million years ago. Plants, fungus, vertebrates and invertebrates such as insects, spiders, scorpions, snails, millipedes and centipedes are represented.  Each polished translucent gem provides a window to the time of the dinosaurs.

Photo courtesy of David Grimaldi, PhD.

Curator: David Temple

As Associate Curator of Paleontology, Temple developed the Museum’s current Paleontology Field Program. His team excavates a Permian locality in North Texas, looking for fossils of Dimetrodon, the most fearsome pre-dinosaur predator, as well as every other sign of life, in order to more accurately reconstruct a 250-million year old….

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