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article imageDinosaur skin color revealed for the first time

By Tim Sandle     Jan 31, 2014 in Science
Stockholm - Scientists have recovered original skin pigments from three ancient marine reptile fossils. For first time the best assessment yet of the color of dinosaur skin has been made.
The skin samples related to a 55-million-year-old leatherback turtle, an 86-million-year- old Mosasaur, and a 196-million-year- old ichthyosaur. All three creatures lived in the seas.
The research into the skin samples, Scientist Magazine describes, demonstrates that the fossilized skin samples all contained highly concentrated levels of molecularly preserved eumelanin, which is a dark pigment. The finding suggests the sea animals’ skin was very dark or even black.
Based on this, the authors suggest that the reptiles’ shared dark pigmentation evolved to meet common needs such as thermoregulation (control of body heat), camouflage, and even ultra-violet light protection.
For their research, the scientists used Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) to determine what structures to sample. Next, using a high-resolution technique called Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), the team examined the top most layers of their samples by bombarding their surfaces with primary ions, ejecting secondary ions of the elements present.
The research was carried out at Lund University, Sweden. The findings have been published in the journal Nature in a paper titled “Skin pigmentation provides evidence of convergent melanism in extinct marine reptiles.”
More about Dinosaur, Skin, jurassic park, Reptiles, Oceans
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