Dinosaurs Connections

From Dinosaurs to Birds

Can scientists tell the color of fossil feathers?

Until recently, scientists were only guessing about the colors of fossil feathers. But researchers may have a clue: traces of organic material found in some fossil feathers are actual remnants of pigments that once gave the birds their color. These were once thought to be carbon traces from bacteria, but are now known to be fossilized melanosomes, the organelles that contain melanin pigment. Since it appears that melanin can be preserved in certain fossils, scientists may now have a way to reliably predict the original colors of feathered dinosaurs, including the Archaeopteryx and its relatives.


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