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There is a lot of evidence to suggest that today’s birds have evolved from the dinosaurs of eons ago. As a part of this evidence, the pictures below show beautiful examples of (possibly) dinosaur feathers encased in amber.

Before you ask, no, these specimens could not produce a “Jurassic Park” scenario.

The researchers analyzing these specimens display the characteristically tentative stance of good science:

These specimens represent distinct stages of feather evolution, from early-stage, single filament protofeathers to much more complex structures associated with modern diving birds . . . They can’t determine which feathers belonged to birds or dinosaurs yet, but they did observe filament structures that are similar to those seen in other non-avian dinosaur fossils.

In other words, the above specimens have helped outline the evolutionary history of feathers, from the first feathers to the feathers of modern birds, and some of them are similar to the fossilized dinosaur feathers found previously. Non-avian dinosaurs fit into this timeline, and show that the feathers on today’s eagles, pheasants, and flamingos came from reptiles millions of years before.

Fossilized dinosaur feathers have already proven that today’s birds descended from dinosaurs, indeed, we are even determining what color dinosaur feathers were. In fact, if you are feeling technical, many researchers refer to birds as dinosaurs, and other species of dinosaurs as non-avian dinosaurs, on account of the large number of anatomical similarities between the two (from so-called transitional fossils).

Head here to see the full gallery and to learn more.

[Via iO9, Nature, Berkeley]