Scientists have discovered the oldest colors in geological record. Bright pink shades extracted from rocks deep beneath Africa’s Sahara desert are more than half a billion years older pigments than previous discoveries.
In fact, they are are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll, “produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean” and range from blood red to deep purple in their concentrated form and bright pink when diluted. “Of course you might say that everything has some colour,” said the senior lead researcher, Associate Prof Jochen Brocks from the Australian National University. “What we’ve found is the oldest biological colour.[...] “And the molecules we’ve found were not from a large creature but microscopic organisms because animals didn’t exist at that time. That’s the amazing thing.”
Ancient world in pink
Researchers said the pink pigment they discovered would have originally appeared blue-green to the human eye. The scientists crushed their billion-year-old findings to powder and found other interesting things. Some of them could change the way we understand geology and the primordial world. Senior lead researcher Associate Professor Jochen Brocks from The Australian National University said that the emergence of large, active organisms was likely to have been restrained by a limited supply of larger food particles, such as algae. The research, supported by Geoscience Australia, was led by ANU and conducted with scientists from the US and Japan.