Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

First Trace of Color Found in Fossil Bird Feathers
The New York Times ^ | 31 Aug 2009 | Carl Zimmer

Posted on 09/01/2009 12:08:11 PM PDT by BGHater

Birds, more than any other group of animals, are a celebration of color. They have evolved to every extreme of the spectrum, from the hot pink of flamingos to the shimmering blue of a peacock’s neck. Yet, for decades, paleontologists who study extinct birds have had to use their imaginations to see the colors in the fossils. Several feather fossils have been unearthed over the years, but they have always been assumed to be colorless vestiges.

Now a team of scientists has discovered color-producing molecules that have survived for 47 million years in the fossil of a feather. By analyzing those molecules, the researchers have shown that they would have given a bird the kind of dark, iridescent sheen found on starlings and other living birds.

This new method may allow scientists not only to reconstruct ancient birds more accurately. Birds evolved from ground-running feathered dinosaurs, and now it may be possible to determine some of the colors on them as well.

“I really do think we are moving from dinosaurs in black and white to dinosaurs in Technicolor,” said Julia Clarke, a University of Texas paleontologist who was a co-author of the new paper, published in the journal Biology Letters.

The new research got its start with squid. Jakob Vinther, a graduate student at Yale, was examining a fossil of a squid when he discovered that its ink sac was packed with microscopic spheres. They were identical to the pigment-loaded structures that give color to ink in living squid, known as melanosomes.

Knowing that birds make melanosomes in their feathers, Mr. Vinther decided to look for them in bird fossils. He knew that unlike the spherical melanosomes in squid, birds make sausage-shaped ones.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: History; Science
KEYWORDS: bird; color; feather; fossil; godsgravesglyphs; science; thebirdistheword

1 posted on 09/01/2009 12:08:12 PM PDT by BGHater
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: BGHater

That’s racist!

2 posted on 09/01/2009 12:13:57 PM PDT by WayneS (Respect the 2nd Amendment; Repeal the 16th)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: WayneS

Wait until the NAACB hears of this!!

3 posted on 09/01/2009 12:15:28 PM PDT by billygoatgruff
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: BGHater
hot pink of flamingos

Sigh. Flamingos are not genetically pink. They get their color from their food (shrimp). It's questionable to see color in a flamingo and thereby conclude that some genetic ancestor therefore had color.

4 posted on 09/01/2009 12:17:46 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Play the Race Card -- lose the game.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BGHater

I was out in the fog this morning listening to the cranes and thinking “many dinosaurs must have sounded like that”.

5 posted on 09/01/2009 12:23:56 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Seniors, the new shovel ready project under socialized medicine.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy

Right. My guess is, some of these birds ended up meeting their demise after getting dressed up for their night out, a little color here and there.. the smell of krill in feathering... a little mud up to the kneecaps...

6 posted on 09/01/2009 12:26:15 PM PDT by theDentist (fybo qwerty ergo typo : i type, therefore i misspelll)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: BGHater; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ...

· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic ·

Thanks BGHater.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach

·Dogpile · Archaeologica · ArchaeoBlog · Archaeology · Biblical Archaeology Society ·
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·

7 posted on 09/01/2009 3:48:14 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ( Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek; BGHater; SunkenCiv

This is so wrong. I really dislike the idea that something that would have wanted to eat me would look and sound pretty.

8 posted on 09/01/2009 4:00:22 PM PDT by colorado tanker (Martha's Vineyard is great! Hey, honey, let's take a drive . . . .)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy

Bad shrimp kill

It seems clear that there is color variation that results from variable shrimp consumption

9 posted on 09/01/2009 4:17:21 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . fasl el-khital)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson