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World's Oldest Color Is Pink Pigment Found in Billion-Year-Old Rock

Image: World's Oldest Color Is Pink Pigment Found in Billion-Year-Old Rock
(The Australian National University)

By    |   Wednesday, 11 July 2018 02:29 PM

The world's oldest color is bright pink, according to scientists at Australia National University who found the pigments in rock estimated to be 1.1 billion years old found deep beneath the Sahara desert in Africa, according to a university statement released Tuesday.

The pigments were taken from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa, the Australian researchers said. ANU Research School of Earth Sciences professor Nur Gueneli said in the statement that the color is more than a half-billion years older than the previous pigment discovery.

"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," Gueneli said in the ANU statement.

The scientists' work is detailed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The features found in the billion-year-old rock gave sciences clues to not only color and the limitations of an abundant food source on Earth.

"Through the discovery of molecular fossils of the photopigment chlorophyll in 1.1-billion-year-old marine sedimentary rocks, we were able to quantify the abundance of different phototrophs," the PNAS study stated.

"The nitrogen isotopic values of the fossil pigments showed that the oceans were dominated by cyanobacteria, while larger planktonic algae were scarce. This supports the hypothesis that small cells at the base of the food chain limited the flow of energy to higher trophic levels, potentially retarding the emergence of large and complex life," the study continued.

ANU researchers, where were joined by scientists in the United States and Japan, said that the spread of algae eventually helped jumpstart the expansion of life on the planet.

"Algae, although still microscopic, are a thousand times larger in volume than cyanobacteria, and are a much richer food source," Jochen Brocks, from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences, said in the university's statement.

"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," he continued.

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Pink is the world's oldest color, according to researchers who found the pigments in Africa in rock estimated to be 1.1 billion year old rocks.
world, oldest, color, pink
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2018-29-11
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 02:29 PM
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