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Re: BBC Radio Show on Fossil Colour

Richard W. Travsky writes:

On Thu, 7 Feb 2008, Michael Barton wrote:

"Quentin will be exploring how fossil remains of the dinosaurs is
revealing information about their colouring and marking were they
striped or spotty purple or yellow?"

Ok, how do fossils show that?

Skin colouration has been preserved in some fossil frogs (from Africa I think), but they weren't nearly as old as Mesozoic. Electronmicroscopy of fossil fish scales has also revealed the exact spacing of their microstriations, which can be used to determine the colours of light they would have reflected.

Other than those examples, I can't think of any reliable ways to determine skin/scale *colour* in fossil species. I seem to recall one of the recent hadrosaur mummies may have had stains that could have been skin markings (stripes if I remember correctly), and I seem to recall someone mentioning patterns preserved on some of the fossil feather impressions coming out of China, but I doubt that such markings are ever in their original colours.


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist              http://geo_cities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia             http://heretichides.soffiles.com