Researchers have discovered the world’s oldest colours at the Sahara desert, highlighting an interesting discovery about early life.
The pigment, discovered after researchers crushed 1.1bn-year-old rocks found in a marine shale deposit in the Taoudeni basin in Mauritania, is pink.
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The 1.1bn years old colours were discovered by a PhD student, Nur Gueneli, who extracted the rushed rocks and analysed them.
The discovery also highlighted that the pigments were created by organisms that lived in an ancient ocean that has long since vanished, according to Gueneli.
The discovery was made when one company, which was looking for oil in the desert 10 years ago discovered an oily shale, sent the rocks for analysis.
“They drilled a hole several hundred metres deep and they hit a deep, black, oily shale. It turned out to be 1.1bn years old, which is absolutely incredible,” said the senior lead researcher, Associate Prof Jochen Brocks from the Australian National University.
According to Brock, the discovery has also revealed information about the life at the time, including why large, complex creatures appeared so late in the Earth’s history.
“[The organisms] been at the bottom of the food chain. In the modern ocean, we have algae at the bottom of the food chain. Microscopic algae are still very small but they are still 1,000 times bigger than cyanobacteria. And you need these larger particles as a food source for larger creatures to evolve. Looking at our molecules it became clear … there was no food source for larger creatures. It solves a very old question,” he added.