Two tiny wings entombed in amber reveal that plumage (the layering, patterning, coloring, and arrangement of feathers) seen in birds today already existed in at least some of their predecessors nearly a hundred million years ago.
A study of the mummified wings, published in the June 28 issue of Nature Communications and funded in part by the National Geographic Society’s Expeditions Council, indicated they most likely belonged to enantiornithes , a group of avian dinosaurs that became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period. (Read more about the evolution from dinosaurs to modern birds.)
While the fact that many, if not nearly all, dinosaurs were feathered has been generally accepted since the 1990s, our knowledge of prehistoric plumage until now has come from feather imprints in carbonized compression fossils and individual feathers fossilized in amber. (See dinosaurs in their feathered glory.)