/, Silicon Valley/Reddish coloring in an ancient fossil – a 3-million-year-old mouse

Reddish coloring in an ancient fossil – a 3-million-year-old mouse

2019-05-27T18:40:39+00:0027 Mai 2019|Allgemein, Silicon Valley|
X-rays reveal an extinct mouse was dressed in brown to reddish fur on its back and sides and had a tiny white tummy. Researchers have for the first time detected chemical traces of red pigment in an ancient fossil – an exceptionally well-preserved mouse, not unlike today’s field mice, that roamed the fields of what is now the German village of Willershausen around 3 million years ago.

The study revealed that the extinct creature, affectionately nicknamed “mighty mouse” by the authors, was dressed in brown to reddish fur on its back and sides and had a tiny white tummy. The results were published today in Nature Communications.

The international collaboration, led by researchers at the University of Manchester in the U.K., used X-ray spectroscopy and multiple imaging techniques to detect the delicate chemical signature of pigments in this long-extinct mouse.

“Life on Earth has littered the fossil record with a wealth of information that has only recently been accessible to science,” says Phil Manning, a professor at Manchester who co-led the study. “A suite of new imaging techniques can now be deployed, which permit us to peer deep into the chemical history of a fossil organism and the processes that preserved its tissues. Where once we saw simply minerals, now we gently unpick the ‘biochemical ghosts’ of long extinct species.”

The research team, which includes scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, used X-ray beams from SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) and the Diamond Light Source (DLS) in the U.K.

Painting a picture of the past

Color plays a vital role in the selective processes that have steered evolution for hundreds of millions of years. But until recently, techniques used to study fossils weren’t capable of exploring the pigmentation of ancient animals, which is pivotal when reconstructing what they looked like.

This most recent paper marks a breakthrough in the ability to resolve fossilized color pigments in long-gone species by mapping key elements associated with the pigment melanin, the dominant pigment in animals. In the form of eumelanin, the pigment gives a black or dark brown color, but in the form of pheomelanin, it produces a reddish or yellow color.

(Sender: SLAC)

Ausgewählt bzw. verfasst von:

Hinterlassen Sie einen Kommentar

 
Um unsere Webseite für Sie optimal gestalten zu können, verwenden wir Cookies. Durch die weitere Nutzung der Webseite stimmen Sie der Verwendung von Cookies zu. Diese Seite bietet Nachrichten via Twitter und verwendet Social Media Dienste. Ich bin damit einverstanden. Weitere Informationen zu Cookies erhalten Sie in unserer Datenschutzerklärung. Ich stimme zu