By using an electron microscope to examine nanoscale structures in a 40 million-year-old bird feather, researchers have determined that, in life, the birds were black with an iridescent, bluish-green coppery sheen, like starlings and grackles. The key to figuring this out was the discovery by researchers at Yale University that rod-shaped nanostructures in the feather specimens aren’t bacteria, but remnants of pigment-containing cells called melanosomes.
Iridescence in bird feathers is caused by constructive interference of light scattered by the cells; how the light scatters is determined by the arrangement of the melanosomes, which are preserved not only in the bird fossils but in some dinosaur and mammalian ones as well. The Yale researchers hope this technique could be used to get a better picture of the coloring and patterning of dinosaurs and other extinct creatures. This work is described online in the journal Biology Letters.
Five poems about the mind
Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution
As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.
I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.
We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.
Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?
The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.
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