By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Science Letter -- A new study on Paleontology is now available. According to news reporting originating in New Haven, Connecticut, by NewsRx journalists, research stated, "A feather from the Eocene Messel Formation, Germany, has been demonstrated to have been originally structurally colored by densely packed sheets of melanosomes similar to modern iridescent feathers exhibiting thin-film diffraction. The fossil itself currently exhibits a silvery sheen, but the mechanism for generating this optical effect was not fully understood."
The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Yale University, "Here we use scanning electron microscopy, electron probe microanalysis, and dual-beam focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy to investigate the source of the silvery sheen that occurs in the apical feather barbules. Focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy provides a powerful tool for studying three-dimensionality of nanostructures in fossils. Use of the method reveals that the flattened apical barbules are preserved almost perfectly, including smooth structural melanosome sheets on the obverse surface of the fossil feather that are identical to those that cause iridescence in modern bird feathers. Most of each apical barbule is preserved beneath a thin layer of sediment. The silvery sheen is generated by incoherent light diffraction between this sediment layer and melanosomes and, although related to the original iridescence of the feather, is not a feature of the feather itself."
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: "The reddish and greenish hues frequently exhibited by fossil feathers from the Messel Formation appear to be due to precipitates on the surface of individual melanosomes."
For more information on this research see: Exceptional three-dimensional preservation and coloration of an originally iridescent fossil feather from the Middle Eocene Messel Oil Shale. Palaeontologische Zeitschrift, 2013;87(4):493-503. Palaeontologische Zeitschrift can be contacted at: Springer Heidelberg, Tiergartenstrasse 17, D-69121 Heidelberg, Germany (see also Paleontology).
Our news correspondents report that additional information may be obtained by contacting N.S. Vitek, Yale University, Dept. of Ecol & Evolutionary Biol, New Haven, CT 06520, United States. Additional authors for this research include J. Vinther, J.D. Schiffbauer, D.E.G. Briggs and R.O. Prum.
Keywords for this news article include: New Haven, Connecticut, Paleontology, United States, North and Central America
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