Melanin is a ubiquitous biological pigment found in bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals. It has a diverse range of ecological and biochemical functions, including display, evasion, photoprotection, detoxification, and metal scavenging. To date, evidence of melanin in fossil organisms has relied entirely on indirect morphological and chemical analyses. Here, we apply direct chemical techniques to categorically demonstrate the preservation of eumelanin in two >160 Ma Jurassic cephalopod ink sacs and to confirm its chemical similarity to the ink of the modern cephalopod, Sepia officinalis. Identification and characterization of degradation-resistant melanin may provide insights into its diverse roles in ancient organisms.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
|Published - 26 Jun 2012