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Scientists find 'world's oldest' biological colours

AFP  |  Sydney 

Australian researchers have uncovered the world's oldest biological colour in the desert, in a find they said today helped explain why complex life forms only recently emerged on earth.

The pink pigments were produced by simple microscopic organisms called cyanobacteria more than 1.1 billion years ago, some 500 million years older than previous colour pigment discoveries.

That makes the samples around "fifteen times older" than the Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur species, according to senior

Earth itself is about 4.5 billion years old and researchers said the latest find shed light on why more sophisticated plant and animal life only came into existence 600 million years ago.

Previous research argued that low oxygen levels in the atmosphere held back the evolution of complicated life forms, but the discovery of cyanobacteria at such an early date suggests that the organisms crowded out more such as algae.

"Algae, although still microscopic, are a thousand times larger in volume than cyanobacteria, and are a much richer food source," Brocks told AFP. "The cyanobacterial oceans started to vanish about 650 million years ago, when algae began to rapidly spread to provide the burst of needed for the evolution of complex ecosystems, where large animals, including humans, could thrive on Earth."

Scientists came across the samples accidently when an in the Taoudeni basin in sent them rocks for analysis. The pigments are fossilised relics of chlorophyll, a that allows plants and some microscopic lifeforms to turn light into

Researchers said the pink pigment they discovered would have originally appeared blue-green to the human eye.

The findings were published today in the journal

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, July 10 2018. 14:20 IST