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RE: Black Feather Colour in Archaeopteryx



There has been a _general_ critique on the recovery of melanosomes in general:

Lingham-Soliar, T. & Plodowski, G. 2010. The integument of Psittacosaurus from 
Liaoning Province, China: Taphonomy, epidermal patterns and color of a 
ceratopsian dinosaur. _Naturwissenschaften_ 97(5):479-86.

  At question is specifically the possible contamination of algal biofilms 
rather than true melanosomes on the structures in question, although this was 
raised specifically to contradict the recovery in specimens with body fossils 
(e.g., *Anchiornis huxleyi*). My understanding on the nature of the feather is 
that isolation of the feather prevents one of the criticisms (contamination by 
skin-based melanosomes) is ruled out, although it is still _possible_ for 
contamination to occur. This can be further analyzed by testing the chemical 
signature of the structures against possible contamination, which I recall 
various authors (including Jakob Vinther and Gerald Mayr) doing. Thus, while 
there is a caution, it goes both ways.

Further work on verifiable feathers, by Vinther et al., are not questioned by 
Lingham-Soliar & Plodowski. Of them, the above paper only cites the first 
below, and only prior to being in print, and only citing the first two authors, 
suggesting they reviewed an incomplete manuscript.

Vinther, J., Briggs, D. E. G., Prum, R. O. & Saranathan, V. 2008. The colour of 
fossil feathers. _Biology Letters_ 4(5):522-525.
Vinther, J., Briggs, D. E. G., Clarke, J., Mayr, G. & Prum, R. O. 2010. 
Structural coloration in a fossil feather. _Biology Letters_ 6(1):128-131.

Cheers,

  Jaime A. Headden
  The Bite Stuff (site v2)
  http://qilong.wordpress.com/

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)


"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion 
Backs)


----------------------------------------
> Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2011 08:22:05 -0500
> From: GSP1954@aol.com
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: Black Feather Colour in Archaeopteryx
>
> I was cautioned by someone at SVP that the conclusions concerning the color
> of this feather may not be correct. So I will wait to alter my Arch
> restorations.
>
> GSPaul</HTML>