A recent research has led to an astonishing discovery – a rock that is 1.1bn-year-old containing some bright pink pigments. At the moment, it is the oldest found color and the scientists hope that this rock will help them solve some of the mysteries surrounding the beginning of life on Earth.
The oldest biological color discovered inside of a Sahara rock
What makes this discovery even more exciting is the fact that the uncovered bright pink substance is of biological origin, as stated by Associate Prof. Jochen Brocks from the Australian National University, who was the lead researcher of this study. According to a Phd student Nur Gueneli, who discovered the colorful substance, her finding is over half a billion years older than those uncovered in the past. During the research work on the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, Gueneli found and crushed the rock, then she extracted and analyzed the molecules of primitive organisms contained in the pink pigment. The results were revolutionary, as the bright pink pigments turned out to be tiny fossils of chlorophyll, produced by early organisms that were living in the ocean some 1.1bn years ago.
The bright pink’s significance in studying the origin of life on Earth
After the structure of the pink substance was analyzed, the scientists were able to confirm that it was produced by small cyanobacteria. Thanks to the detailed study, the researchers have managed to come up with the conclusion that these tiny organisms were at the very bottom of the food chain. It appears that other, more complex life forms, such as seaweed, couldn’t develop earlier than 600m years ago simply due to the lack of a proper food source.
The scientists were able to provide us not only with the oldest biological pigment, but also with an answer to the question about the origin of life on Earth.