Scientists Discover Earth's Oldest Color - Bright Pink

Earth's oldest biological colour discovered in rocks beneath Sahara Desert

Science says the oldest colour in the world is bright pink.

An worldwide team of researchers found the preserved signature for chlorophyll inside 1.1 billion-year-old marine black shales dug up out of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa.

"She had said, "Look at this, Jochen", and she had this bright pink stuff". The bright pink color is believed to be more than half a billion years older than other prehistoric pigments.

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

It is the oldest colour ever seen in the geological record, and was produced by organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished.

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You can read all about the findings in their study here.

The rocks were sent to the ANU from an oil company that was drilling for oil several hundred meters beneath the sand of the Sahara desert around a decade ago, according to The Guardian.

The team of researchers from Australia, Japan and the U.S. also were able to use the pigments to confirm that ancient marine ecosystems were dominated by tiny cyanobacteria, a type of bacteria that obtains energy through photosynthesis.

Chlorophyll is what gives modern plants their green color, though the fossilized chlorophyll in the cyanobacteria samples was dark red and deep purple in its concentrated form, the scientists reported. Despite being 4.6 billion years old, an explosion of complex life on Earth didn't take place until about 650 million years ago. These cyanobacteria had a great run for 500 million years or so, which is more than enough time to pull off wearing pink.

The evolution of larger, active organisms was likely held back by a limited supply of larger food particles, such as algae, at this time.

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The whole affair kicked off a takeover that quite literally changed the world, one that not only made it more colourful in the end, but a lot more exciting. Prof Brocks said this contributed to understanding on the evolution of life forms on Earth.

"I heard her screaming in the lab when it came out, and she ran into my office", Asst Prof Brocks said.

"Algae, although still microscopic, are a thousand times larger in volume than cyanobacteria, and are a much richer food source", said Brocks, who works in the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences.

The first animals, which are either sponges or some sort of comb jelly, didn't appear until roughly 600 million years ago.

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