Scientists discover the world’s oldest colours

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Context:

  • Scientists have discovered the oldest colours in the geological record — 1.1 billion-year-old bright pink pigments extracted from rocks deep beneath the Sahara desert in Africa.

Details about the Discovery:

  • 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 pigment discoveries.
  • 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.
  • 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 emergence of large, active organisms was likely to have been restrained by a limited supply of larger food particles, such as algae.
  • Algae, although still microscopic, are a thousand times larger in volume than cyanobacteria, and are a much richer food source,
  • The cyanobacterial oceans started to vanish about 650 million years ago, when algae began to rapidly spread to provide the burst of energy needed for the evolution of complex ecosystems, where large animals, including humans, could thrive on Earth.

Source:TH