A guide to the field of palaeo colour

Bioessays 37 (6):643-656 (2015)
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Abstract

Melanin, and other pigments have recently been shown to preserve over geologic time scales, and are found in several different organisms. This opens up the possibility of inferring colours and colour patterns ranging from invertebrates to feathered dinosaurs and mammals. An emerging discipline is palaeo colour: colour plays an important role in display and camouflage as well as in integumental strengthening and protection, which makes possible the hitherto difficult task of doing inferences about past ecologies, behaviours, and organismal appearance. Several studies and techniques have been presented in the last couple of years that have described ways to characterize pigment patterns. Here, I will review the available methods and the likely applications to understand past ecologies. A golden age of colourized dinosaurs and other animals is now dawning upon us, which may elucidate the nature of ancient predator prey interactions and display structures.Also watch the Video Abstract.

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