Bright pink pigments which are 1.1 billion-year-old have been extracted from rocks deep beneath the Sahara desert in Africa by a team of scientists from The Australian National University (ANU).
Dr Nur Gueneli from the Australian National University said that the pigments taken from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa, were more than half a billion years older than the previous pigment discoveries.
He added, “The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished.”
The fossils range from blood red to deep purple in their concentrated form, and bright pink when diluted.
The researchers crushed the billion-year-old rocks to powder, before extracting and analysing molecules of ancient organisms from them.
Senior lead researcher Associate Professor Jochen Brocks from The Australian National University said that the emergence of large, active organisms was likely to have been restrained by a limited supply of larger food particles, such as algae.
The research is published in the journal- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.