Scientists Find Mammal Color Using Fossil Pigments

September 29, 2015: For the first time in history, scientists from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, State University, US and University of Bristol have described the original color of a fossil mammal from the fossil details.

The researchers used chemical techniques with morphological ways to find the color of two different bat species, which were known to be alive around 56-33.9 million years ago, said a report on Eureka Alert.

The study, which was first published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said that bats were reddish-brown in color, which was found from the structures and other details from the fossils.

It has been quite a few years that scientists question if the oblong and spherical shaped structures that contain melanin can be used for finding the color of the animal.

The study conducted by many scientists showed that the organic microbodies found in the feathers, eyes, skin and hair of well-preserved fossils have the leftovers of melanin, which can be pivotal for studies.

Many “high-temperature autoclave experiments” were done to replicate the conditions under which these fossils were formed, before coming to the conclusion.

Scientists from the study were also quoted saying that this is a big leap ahead in understanding how fossils and the melanin are preserved.

There were two kinds of melanin found, namely black eumelanin, and reddish brown phaeomelanin, which are known to look differently and have distinct chemical details.

With humans trying hard to find more details of ancient animals, this is indeed a great leap ahead.