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Scientists reveal they have found the world’s oldest colour

Biogeochemistry Lab Manager Janet Hope of the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences contains a small bottle of pink colored porphyrins which is the oldest intact pigments in the world. (Credit: ANU)

Well, the Crayolas and color me tickled pink.

According to a recent study, bright pink is the world’s oldest color, which is discovered in rocks 1.1 billion years old.

The old pink pigments were found in marine black shales from the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa. The pigments in the rock were more than 500 million years older than previously discovered pigments, according to Dr. Nur Gueneli of the National University of Australia, by the discovery.

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“The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms living in an ancient ocean that has long since disappeared,” Dr. Gueneli said in a statement announcing the findings.

To the pigments, Dr. Gueneli and her team at the breaking of the rocks into a powder; from there, they extracted and analyzed on the molecules of the old organisms in the rocks.

In concentrated form, the fossils ranged from blood red to deep purple” and when they were diluted they changed into a light pink.

The researchers also found that ancient marine ecosystems were dominated by cyanobacteria, a small bacteria that gain energy from photosynthesis.

“The accurate analysis of the ancient pigments confirmed that small cyanobacteria dominated the base of the food chain in the oceans a billion years ago, which helps to explain why animals did not exist at the time,” Dr. Gueneli added in the statement.

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Cyanobacterial oceans started to disappear, around 650 million years ago, which eventually led to complex life, increasingly dominant on the planet, researchers said.

“The cyanobacterial oceans began to disappear about 650 million years ago, when the algae quickly began to spread to the burst of energy that is required for the evolution of complex ecosystems, where the large animals, including humans, can thrive on Earth”, said senior principal investigator and ANU associate professor Jochen Brocks.

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