Direct chemical evidence for undegraded eumelanin pigment from the Jurassic period

Glass, Keely; Ito, Shosuke; Wilby, Philip R.; Sota, Takayuki; Nakamura, Atsushi; Bowers, C.Russell; Vinther, Jakob; Dutta, Suryendu; Summons, Roger; Briggs, Derek E.G.; Wakamatsu, Kazumasa; Simon, John D.. 2012 Direct chemical evidence for undegraded eumelanin pigment from the Jurassic period. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109 (26). 10218-10223.

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Melanin is a ubiquitous biological pigment found in bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals. It has a diverse range of ecological and biochemical functions, including display, evasion, photoprotection, detoxification, and metal scavenging. To date, evidence of melanin in fossil organisms has relied entirely on indirect morphological and chemical analyses. Here, we apply direct chemical techniques to categorically demonstrate the preservation of eumelanin in two > 160 Ma Jurassic cephalopod ink sacs and to confirm its chemical similarity to the ink of the modern cephalopod, Sepia officinalis. Identification and characterization of degradation-resistant melanin may provide insights into its diverse roles in ancient organisms.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Geology and Landscape (England)
ISSN: 0027-8424
Date made live: 06 Nov 2012 13:05 +0 (UTC)

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