Red-haired girls are at least 3 million years old. Scientists have discovered red pigments in the fossils of old mouse fossils found in Germany.
The findings reported in Nature Communications this week show that mice several million years ago were very similar to what they did today.
“Here we find that 3 million year old mice look exactly like modern mice,” said Uwe Bergman, a scientist at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC Accelerator Laboratory. “Although this is not a big surprise, the fact that we can identify such pigments will now have an impact on future results.”
Bergman and his colleagues from SLAC have collaborated with scientists from Stanford University to identify the chemical signs of red pigments in cells of old mice.
To confirm the existence of ancient pigments, scientists must first examine how modern and less degraded pigments interact with other elements. To study this chemical interaction, scientists bathed old and new cells in X-rays with the Stanford synchrotron beam source.
“With our technology, we use the fact that melanin is associated with metals,” said Nick Edwards, a scientist at SLAC. “Other organic pigments, such as carotene, which, for example, produce brilliant colors in the cockatoo, are not easily attached to metals and are not currently available with our technology.”
Researchers have found the same signatures of chemical bonds between red pigments and trace metals in old and new cells.
The colorful horns that are abundant in wildlife are evidence of the importance of the evolution of pigmentation, but to date, scientists have been able to say little about ancient colors.
“Color and pigmentation are very important for the survival and development of species, such as camouflage, sexual selection, UV protection, thermoregulation and body balance,” Bergman said. “There is some speculation that the presence of metals, such as copper, can prevent soft tissue from damage before a bacterial attack.”
By painting the ancient world, scientists can better understand how animals interact with each other and with the natural world. Ancient color ecosystems are scientists who can easily be deciphered.
“For most fossils, we don’t know about the color of living animals, for example, all the images are pure imaginary dinosaurs,” Edwards said. “We want to know what old life forms are and how they compare to modern life.” If you know that, you can understand evolution better.
Bergman and Edwards continued to look for new ways to paint a more complete picture of old life.
“We are currently working on a series of fossil fuel studies to show how the fossilization process takes place and what the effects of the fossilization process are on the local environment and environment,” Bergman said. “This is a type of chemical forensics from dramatic events that occurred millions of years ago, and we feel very interesting.”