Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Determination of Fossil Feather Color

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. NY Times tells of a recent paper describing how paleontologists have examined bird fossils with an electron microscope and discovered traces of melanosomes. These are pigment structures that give feathers their colors. One 47 million year old sample proved to have dark glossy feathers with a metallic sheen, much like you'd see on a grackle or starling.

It should be interesting to see more results as this technique spreads.

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