Chemical, experimental, and morphological evidence for diagenetically altered melanin in exceptionally preserved fossils. 2015. PNAS.
Researchers discovered the reddish brown color of two extinct species of bat from fossils dating back about 50 million years, marking the first time the colors of extinct mammals have been described through fossil analysis.
The techniques can be used to determine color from well-preserved animal fossils that are up to 300 million years old, researchers said.
The researchers said microscopic structures traditionally believed to be fossilized bacteria are in fact melanosomes—organelles within cells that contain melanin, the pigment that gives colors to hair, feathers, skin, and eyes.
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