Nanostructures on preserved feather bear first fossil evidence of bird color not from pigments
Birds shimmered at least 40 million years before custom car paints, according to a new look at old fossils.
Exquisitely preserved bits of feathers from Germany’s Messel Oil Shale deposits near Darmstadt bear swaths of oblong lumps some 1 to 1.5 micrometers wide. The structures provide the first fossil evidence of bird iridescence, Jakob Vinther of Yale University and his colleagues report online August 25 in Biology Letters.
Analysts in the 1980s had seen these lumps and concluded that they were remnants of ancient bacteria. But a Yale