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Re: Ichthyosaurs and mosasaurs had dark skin pigments

Here is a nice review of fossil preservation of color:

On Wed, January 8, 2014 7:00 pm, Jura wrote:

> I agree with the majority of your argument here, but I would like to
> correct one area. Colour is determined by melanocytes in mammals and birds
> (which in turn produce melanosomes), but things get more complicated in
> reptiles, amphibians and fish. These all use chromatophores, which are
> smaller organelles that either reflect different wavelengths of light
> (xanthophores [yellow], erythrophores [red], leucophores {white, fish
> only]), absorb all lig
> eptiles also have melanocytes that contain the standard melanin seen in
> mammals and birds. 
> I agree that melanosomes seem to be the only things that get preserved in
> the fossil record and that it is likely skewing our views of prehistoric
> critters to a more "black an white" view (how fitting for us mammals to do
> that). To be fair, Lindgren et al. do consider this problem in their
> analysis (though much of it gets relegated to supplementary material
> land). Perhaps future synchrotron work will help elucidate these other
> colour-forming organelles.
> Jason

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
Fax: 301-314-9661

Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program, College Park Scholars
Fax: 301-314-9843

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
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                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA