Scientists discover the oldest color in the world

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

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

When they pulverized the fossils to analyze the bacteria molecules, the researchers distilled the colors to find a brilliant pink.

The discovery of the world's oldest biological colour could help explain why it took 4 billion years for animal life to form on Earth.

An worldwide team of researchers from Australia, Japan, the United States and Belgium has successfully extracted bright pink biological pigments from 1.1-billion-year-old marine sedimentary rocks of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa.

These pink pigments predate red-previously thought to be the oldest color.

Nur Gueneli, from The Australian National University, said the ancient pigment was extracted from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa.

ANU scientists say the pigments are more than one billion years old.

Their analysis revealed that the rocks contained molecules of ancient organisms known as the cyanobacteria.

"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", Dr. Gueneli said in a news release.

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


Scientists have unearthed the world's oldest colors, or pigments, from deep beneath the Sahara.

Brocks explained this is an ancient process, but piecing together major events in Earth's geological history helped them date their color discovery.

Considering oxygen levels started to rise around 3.4 billion years ago, that earlier find still left us with a big gap in fossil evidence of sunlight-harvesting pigments.

That means nothing was swimming around, chomping down on morsels of sunbaking cyanobacteria.

Her reaction to seeing colors produced by organisms that lived more than a billion years ago?

That makes the samples around "fifteen times older" than the Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur species, according to senior Australian National University researcher Jochen Brocks.

"She came running into my office and said, 'look at this, ' and she had this bright pink stuff". While algae is microscopic, it is many thousands of times larger than cyanobacteria making for a much richer food source. Brocks believes oceans dominated by cyanobacteria may be the culprit.

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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