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Re: BBC Radio Show on Fossil Colour

There are several specimens of Treptoceras sp. (a straight shelled Ordovician cephalopod from the Richmondian) that I collected during my masters thesis work that very clearly show longitudinal color banding along their shell. They are sitting in repository along with the rest of quite rare cephalopod fauna (one new still unnamed Genus according to Russeau H. Flower who personally examined the material) found during my thesis work at Miami of Ohio (Oxford Ohio) Geology Department. These are 400 million year old fossils and were preserved in a very fine grained lagoonal micritic limestone deposited under low energy/low oxygen environment. My point is: old doesn't mean that color /color patterns isn't/aren't preserved. Whether or not this brown/creme striping color on these particular fossils is the original color is in doubt but the specimens clearly shows an easily distinguishable pattern of color unrelated to the growth pattern which is more structural in nature. This these work was biostratigraphical correlation and sedimentalogical based more than it was paleontologically descriptive. There is no reason if under the right conditions, that dinosaur material won't have fossil color patterns preserved but the accuracy of the color preserved (versus the original) will always be in doubt.

The reference is:
Bliss, F. E. 1984. The "Concrete Layer", (A rock Unit Resembling The Hitz Bed) of the Slauda Formation (Upper Ordovician), In Franklin County, Indiana. Master Thesis, Miami University Oxford Ohio, 1884, pp. 1-121 .

Frank (Rooster) Bliss
MS Biostratigraphy
Weston, Wyoming
On Feb 7, 2008, at 10:25 PM, Dann Pigdon wrote:

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