Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Bright Pink is Oldest Color in Geological Record | Paleontology

Bright Pink is Oldest Color in Geological Record | Paleontology

Researchers say that these bright pink pigments are molecular fossils of chlorophyll.

This colorful remnant suggests that ancient sunlight-eating organisms cast a pink tint to a long-gone ocean, lead study author Nur Gueneli, of the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University (ANU), said in a statement.

An worldwide team led by researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) extracted 1.1-billion-year-old bright pink pigments from ancient rocks deep below the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, West Africa. The bright pink color is seen when the pigments are diluted.

The ancient color pigments were extracted from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania in West Africa.

"The precise analysis of the ancient pigments confirmed that tiny cyanobacteria dominated the base of the food chain in the oceans a billion years ago, which helps to explain why animals did not exist at the time", Dr. Gueneli explained.

The pigments found were produced by photosynthetic organisms that inhabited an ancient ocean.

You can read all about the findings in their study here. Researchers from the U.S., Japan, and Austrailia have been digging in the Sahara desert and have found out that none of than hot pink appears to be the world's oldest surviving color. The fossils were originally green and then became blood red to deep purple in their concentrated form.

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Brocks explained this is an ancient process, but piecing together major events in Earth's geological history helped them date their color discovery.

We know surprisingly little about what the Earth might have been like a billion (or more) years ago.

That means nothing was swimming around, chomping down on morsels of sunbaking cyanobacteria.

According to senior lead researcher Dr. Jochen Brocks, an associate professor at ANU, the limited supply of large food particles like algae in these ancient oceans likely restrained the emergence of large, active organisms.

The whole affair kicked off a takeover that quite literally changed the world, one that not only made it more colourful in the end, but a lot more exciting.

"She came running into my office and said, 'look at this, ' and she had this bright pink stuff". It's easy to imagine that things were the same before humans or even dinosaurs roamed the Earth, but if you go back far enough you'll find life that didn't have much interest in the color green.

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