Wednesday, 2 September 2015

"Modern" Pigment Found in ”150 Million Year” Old Bird Fossil

Image courtesy of Kumiko, Tokyo, Japan. Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Joel Kontinen

The dino-to-bird hypothesis puts feathers on dinosaurs and obviously also classifies some feathered birds as dinos. This might well be the case with Anchiornis huxleyi that is described as a “bird-like dinosaur.”

The first feathered dinosaur Archaeoraptor liaoningensis graced the cover of National Geographic. A few months later it was found to be a hoax.

In 2013, the journal Science called for stricter scrutiny for Chinese fossils, as Archaeoraptor might not have been the only forgery that made its way into science publications.

This time, researchers reported on finding pigments and melanosomes in a fossil believed to be “150 million years” old.

Melanosomes produce the melanin pigment.

Research conducted at Brown University seems to show that they have indeed found melanosomes:

The team performed two different kinds of chemical analyses to see if they could detect animal eumelanin pigment. They used both time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry and infrared reflectance spectroscopy to discern the molecular signature of melanin in the samples. They compared those observed signatures with the signatures of modern-day animal eumelanin. The melanins were virtually identical, except for minor contributions from sulfur in the fossil, Carney said.”

Ryan Carney is the co-author of their report published in the journal Scientific Reports.

So, they are willing to believe that melanin can remain virtually unchanged of 150 million years. One thing that they will not question is the purported age of the fossil, because evolution desperately needs time.

For the same reason, they might not be leaping for joy on hearing about radiocarbon (C-14) in dinosaur bone or in diamonds.


Brown University. 2015). Pigments, organelles persist in fossil feathers: Shed light on original coloration of long-lost animals. ScienceDaily. (27 August).