Have you ever tried to imagine what prehistoric world was like? Ever fantasized the smell of the air or the warmth of the ancient Sun (though it would probably melt your skin in minutes)?
A new research gives us an opportunity to look at the Earth billion years ago without having to invent a time machine. It turned out that our planed had a cute pink color.
Researchers from the Australian National University extracted pigments from bacteria fossils preserved in the rocks of West Africa. Those pigments are 1.1 billion years old and participated in photosynthesis, a process of transformation of sunlight into oxygen.
Scientists found fossils in marine shale and diluted the samples. The result suggested that ancient sunlight-eating organisms painted vast ancient ocean into pink color, that reminds the shade of a sunset sky.
“When held against the sunlight, they are actually a neon pink,” Nur Gueneli, a Ph.D. student who discovered the pigment molecules, said. “At first I thought [the sample] had been contaminated.”
As one of the senior researches Jochen Brocks stated, the researchers were lucky, because such samples don’t usually last long. That batch of bacteria had probably sunk down to the seafloor and was isolated from oxygen until now.
— Science at ANU (@scienceANU) August 17, 2017
Besides being cute and edgy, the neon pink also gives scientists a hint of who ruled the big waters in that era. Scientist did not find fossil records of larger animals older than 600 million years, so they wondered why the evolution took so long.
Now researchers have the answer – that tiny thing dominated the base of the food chain. Simply put, bacteria makes very poor lunch for big fish. So it took millions of years of evolution for larger organisms to appear.
And though neon pink does not make a meal, it’s nice to look at. Professor Brocks can prove that. He put his reaction to seeing this color into two simple words:
Featured Image: The Australian National University