Skip to comments.First Trace of Color Found in Fossil Bird Feathers
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 peacocks 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 nytimes.com ...
Wait until the NAACB hears of this!!
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.
I was out in the fog this morning listening to the cranes and thinking “many dinosaurs must have sounded like that”.
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...
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This is so wrong. I really dislike the idea that something that would have wanted to eat me would look and sound pretty.
Bad shrimp kill
It seems clear that there is color variation that results from variable shrimp consumption
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