Scientists Say They've Solved 159 Year-Old Dinosaur Feather Mystery
Scientists believe they have settled a dispute going back 159 years, by showing that the first fossil feather ever discovered belonged to a flying bird-like dinosaur called Archaeopteryx.
The origin of the fossil, which was unearthed in Berlin back in 1861, has puzzled scientists ever since, with experts attributing it to a host of different dinosaur species - but now believe they have a definitive answer.
A team of scientists at the University of Florida led by lead author Ryan Carney have unearthed new conclusive evidence that they say confirms it belongs to Archaeopteryx.
The scientists found that the fossil matched a type of wing feather known as a primary covert that covers other feathers and helps to propel birds into the air.
The team examined nine different elements of the feather in great detail and also compared it to the structure of other modern living birds.
The structures of 13 Archaeopteryx fossil feathers were also analysed and revealed that its primary coverts were identical in size and shape to their mystery fossil.
The fossil was also found on the exact same site in Germany as several other Archaeopteryx skeletons, which scientists say confirms their conclusion and ends the 159-year mystery.
Carney, who is the Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida, revealed he and his team had used cutting edge techniques to unearth new evidence.
He said: "There's been debate for the past 159 years as to whether or not this feather belongs to the same species as the Archaeopteryx skeletons, as well as where on the body it came from and its original color.
"Through scientific detective work that combined new techniques with old fossils and literature, we were able to finally solve these centuries-old mysteries."