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World's oldest colours discovered

Press Trust of India  |  Melbourne 

Scientists have discovered the oldest colours in the geological record - 1.1 billion-year-old bright pink pigments extracted from rocks deep beneath the in

The pigments taken from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa, were more than half a billion years older than previous discoveries, said from The (ANU).

"The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished," said Gueneli.

The fossils range from blood red to deep purple in their concentrated form, and bright pink when diluted, according to a study published in the journal PNAS.

The researchers crushed the billion-year-old rocks to powder, before extracting and analysing molecules of ancient organisms from them.

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

The emergence of large, active organisms was likely to have been restrained by a limited supply of larger food particles, such as algae, Jochen Brocks, an at ANU.

"Algae, although still microscopic, are a thousand times larger in volume than cyanobacteria, and are a much richer food source," said Brocks.

"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," he said.

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

First Published: Tue, July 10 2018. 11:20 IST
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