Australian scientists have discovered world’s oldest colour pigments from the rocks buried deep beneath the Sahara desert in Africa – and the colour that is 1.1 billion years old is – bright pink.
When asked about what could be the world’s oldest biological colour, the obvious response would be – blue, green, black or brown. Little did we know until, a group of Aussie scientists of the Australian National University hiked to the Sahara and discovered a 1.1 billion-year-old rocks buried deep beneath Africa’s Sahara desert in the marine black shale of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania. After cracking up the very, very, very old rocks – the molecular fossils of chlorophyll produced by photosynthetic organisms of ancient oceans were extracted. That was when the researchers struck gold – the oldest biological pigment ever found.
The spectrum of world’s oldest colour pigment in concentrated form ranges from blood red to deep purple and when diluted, it is a perfect bright pink. The 1.1 billion years old bright pink pigment is more than half-a-billion years older than the previous – making it a historic finding. However, the research wasn’t just about colours. Upon researching further, it was discovered that the these fossils were dominated by a tiny little bacteria called cyanobacteria – which was the base of entire ancient food chain in the oceans, billions of years ago. The presence of cyanobacteria explains why animals or larger organisms didn’t exist during that time – as it was restricted by the limited amount of larger food particles like algae.
It was some 650 million years ago that the cyanobacteria started vanishing from the oceans – which is when, algae started growing with a burst of energy and food that was needed for a major evolution. With rapidly growing algae, came the plants and animals and large animals and humans – thriving on the blue planet. Henceforth, the oldest biological colour ever found by any human is bright pink – as of now; but as they say, science is a never ending quest and it is never the last discovery.