Scientists believe they have uncovered the world’s oldest color on record in Africa. Buzz60’s Josh King has more.
Is bright pink the new black? Well, not exactly, but it is the world’s oldest-known color, according to new research.
Researchers extracted the pigment from bacteria fossils preserved in rocks under the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, West Africa. Inside those teensy bacteria, the scientists found chlorophyll — a pigment used today by plants for photosynthesis — dating back to about 1.1 billion years ago. That’s about 600 million years older than similar chlorophyll fossils found previously, scientists reported in the new study.
Their findings hint that cyanobacteria, bacteria that survive on sunlight, appeared much earlier than algae, which have been traced to around 650 million years ago. And bacteria likely dominated Earth’s ancient oceans for hundreds of millions of years, according to the study.
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.
When they pulverized the fossils to analyze the bacteria molecules, the researchers distilled the colors to find a brilliant pink. This colorful remnant suggests that ancient sunlight-eating organisms cast a pink tint to a long-gone ocean, lead study author Nur Gueneli, of the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University (ANU), said in a statement.