Molecular composition and ultrastructure of Jurassic paravian feathers.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Feathers are amongst the most complex epidermal structures known, and they have a well-documented evolutionary trajectory across non-avian dinosaurs and basal birds. Moreover, melanosome-like microbodies preserved in association with fossil plumage have been used to reconstruct original colour, behaviour and physiology. However, these putative ancient melanosomes might alternatively represent microorganismal residues, a conflicting interpretation compounded by a lack of unambiguous chemical data. We therefore used sensitive molecular imaging, supported by multiple independent analytical tests, to demonstrate that the filamentous epidermal appendages in a new specimen of the Jurassic paravian Anchiornis comprise remnant eumelanosomes and fibril-like microstructures, preserved as endogenous eumelanin and authigenic calcium phosphate. These results provide novel insights into the early evolution of feathers at the sub-cellular level, and unequivocally determine that melanosomes can be preserved in fossil feathers.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology
Original languageEnglish
Article number13520
JournalScientific Reports
Volume5
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Chemical Physics (S) (011001060), Lithosphere and Biosphere Science (011006002), Max-laboratory (011012005), Functional Zoology (432112239)

Related research output

Johan Gren, 2017 Dec, Lund: Lund University, Faculty of Science, Department of Geology, Lithosphere and Biosphere Science. 105 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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