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Fossil moth reveals colorful hue

Paleontologists deduce how ridges on the creature’s wings reflected light

2:16pm, October 11, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Ancient moths have for the first time shown their true colors to modern humans.

By piecing together clues from a fossil unearthed in a former German quarry, a team of scientists has figured out how light bounced off a moth that lived 47 million years ago. Today, the insect’s remains are bluish. But before time alchemized its wings, the creature was mostly yellow-green, with only a fringe of blue.

“The original colors aren’t preserved, but they can be reconstructed,” said Yale paleontologist Maria McNamara, who presented the new findings October 9 at the Geological Society of America annual meeting.

Like beetles and dragonflies

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