The earliest hollow pigment pigment indicates the appearance of brilliant iridescent color in bird feathers

A is an image of the sample STM7-144, the blue dot on top of the sample shows where the hollow melososomes were collected; B and C are TEM images of the sample from the sample head, with the scale bar in B being 1000nm, C being 200 nm. Credit: Flag China Press

SEM and TEM observations of feathers on early basal birds, out of 130 million years old deposits in Fengreng, Hebei Province in northern China, provide the earliest record of feathering from feathers. It is kept as a rod by air holes and is roughly circular in cross section. Dr Pan Yanhong, who led the study, said: “I am very surprised by this observation. If this proves to be true, it would be a really exciting discovery.”

Why is hollow pigmented bodies important? The color of the feathers in existing birds is usually produced by pigments or structures, and the brilliant iridescent colors, that is, their color changes depending on the spectra of sunlight reflection at different viewing angles, they are the most unique, and are considered in some birds present such as African starlings and birds of paradise. “Melanocytes create iridescent plumage colors in extant birds are different in morphology, including solid cyclindrical, solid flattened, cyclindrical hollow and hollow flattened, but so far hollow pigmented bodies have not been reported in fossil birds although particle melanocytes have been reported. A flatted feathered dinosaur,” says Pan.

Pan and her colleagues also noted that subterranean birth was observed only from feathers on the top of the head, but not from feathers from other regions of the same sample. She associates this with potential sexual display as the coloring can be an additional ornament.

It appears that some of the hollow melososomes are more or less fused, and air holes are fused, which can be well explained by the mass rotation. “Previous cue work by our team has confirmed that melanosomes can be fused during the cue process,” Ban says.

The researchers are optimistic that future work will likely produce more observable hollow mines in early birds.

The dazzling birds are paired with a scheduling attached to a nanoscale eagle from a feather skeleton

more information:
Yanhong Pan et al, Unequivocal evidence for the brilliant iridescent feather color of hollow melanosomes in early chalk, National Science Review (2021). DOI: 10.1093/nsr/nwab227

Introduction of China Flag Press

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