Over the years, samples of amber recovered from numerous sites around the world have been found to contain petrified insects, plants and a variety of other exotic inclusions. Invariably, we get an insight into a past world where the flora and fauna look very modern. A recent discovery has identified mammalian hair in amber, whose original owner was a contemporary of dinosaurs.
The dimensions and topography of the two fossilised hairs were analysed carefully, because the find provides the first opportunity to look at Mesozoic mammal hairs preserved in 3D. The result:
“With such features, the cuticular surface of the Archingeay-Les Nouillers hairs shows a modern aspect, implying that the morphology of hair cuticula has remained unchanged throughout most of mammalian evolution.”
The New Scientist report says this is the first time researchers have been able to study the pattern of scales on their surface:
“It turns out that the pattern is identical to that found on modern mammalian hair: rows of overlapping scales stacked on top of each other in an orderly fashion, with each row roughly 2 to 8 micrometres high. This discovery is “wonderful progress”, says Zhe-Xi Luo, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “It shows the microstructure of hairs of mammals have always been the same.””
Why is this find worthy of comment? For more, go here.