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Scientists discover the oldest color in the world

It's more than a billion years old. It's from fossilized chlorophyll. And it isn't the color you think it is.

Here's a close-up view of a vial containing the bright pink ancient pigments.
Australian National University

Scientists at Australian National University are in the pink thanks to a new study that identifies the world's oldest color.

The team of researchers discovered bright pink pigment in rocks taken from deep beneath the Sahara in Africa. The pigment was dated at 1.1 billion years old, making it the oldest color on geological record.

"The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished," said Dr. Nur Gueneli from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences

The ancient color pigments were extracted from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania in West Africa. They are roughly more than half a billion years older than previous discoveries, according to the ANU's findings, which were published on July 9.

The scientists extracted and studied the molecules of ancient organisms, which were found by crushing the ancient rocks to powder. 

The original fossils range in color from a blood red to a deep purple, but when diluted, the ancient pigments appear bright pink. 

You can read all about the findings in their study here.