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Molecular composition and ultrastructure of Jurassic paravian feathers
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2015 (English)In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 5, 13520Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 5, 13520
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Evolutionary Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-262418DOI: 10.1038/srep13520ISI: 000360147200001PubMedID: 26311035OAI: diva2:854956
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2015-09-18 Created: 2015-09-15 Last updated: 2015-09-18Bibliographically approved

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Kear, Benjamin P.
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