Scientists have discovered what they say are the world’s oldest surviving biological colours, from ancient rocks beneath the Sahara desert.

The 1.1 billion-year-old pigments have a bright pink hue, but range from blood red to deep purple in their concentrated form.

The pigments are fossilised molecules of chlorophyll produced by sea organisms, Australian scientists said.

Researchers ground the shale rocks into powder to extract the pigment.

“Imagine you could find a fossilised dinosaur skin that still has its original colour, green or blue… that is exactly the type of discovery that we’ve made,” Associate Prof Jochen Brocks from the Australian National University (ANU) told the BBC.

“These are actual molecules, the oldest coloured molecules in the world. When held against the sunlight, they are actually a neon pink.”

A mining company had found the rocks in a marine shale deposit in the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa about 10 years ago, after drilling a hole several hundred metres deep, he said.

Source ; BBC News

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