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This is the world's oldest color, according to a new study

Researchers discovered ancient pink pigments from rocks that were more than 1.1 billion years old in the Sahara Desert, specifically in the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa.
Researchers discovered ancient pink pigments from rocks that were more than 1.1 billion years old in the Sahara Desert, specifically in the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa.
Screenshot, ANU

SALT LAKE CITY — Pink is the world’s oldest color, according to a new study.

Researchers discovered ancient pink pigments from rocks that are more than 1.1 billion years old in the Sahara Desert, specifically in the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa.

Those pigments are the oldest known colors on record.

The pigments themselves are roughly 500 million years older than the last previously known pigments, which were discovered in ancient ocean creatures, said Dr. Nur Gueneli in a news release.

“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," Gueneli said in a statement.

According to CNN, researchers discovered the colors by crushing billion-year-old rocks into powder and analyzing them to see which molecules existed inside the powder.

“When diluted, the ancient pigments appear bright pink. But when they're concentrated, the fossils can range from a blood red to a deep purple,” CNN reported.

Jochen Brocks, an associate professor who works at the Australian National University, told the BBC this is a rather large finding.

"Imagine you could find a fossilized dinosaur skin that still has its original color, green or blue ... that is exactly the type of discovery that we've made," he said.

"These are actual molecules, the oldest coloured molecules in the world. When held against the sunlight, they are actually a neon pink,” he added.

The researchers also discovered with this experiment that these pigments confirmed there were ancient ecosystems underwater that were dominated by cyanobacteria, which is “a type of bacteria that obtains energy through photosynthesis,” according to CNN.

Brocks told BBC the secondary discovery was important because the cyanobacteria dominated the food chain in the world.

"Tiny cyanobacteria dominated the base of the food chain in the oceans a billion years ago, which helps to explain why animals did not exist at the time," he said. "Life only became bigger about 600 million years ago because before that there was no sufficient food source."