Direct chemical evidence for eumelanin pigment from the Jurassic period

Keely Glass, Shosuke Ito*, Philip R. Wilby, Takayuki Sota, Atsushi Nakamura, C. Russell Bowers, Jakob Vinther, Suryendu Dutta, Roger Summons, Derek E G Briggs, Kazumasa Wakamatsu, John D. Simon

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    162 Citations (Scopus)


    Melanin is a ubiquitous biological pigment found in bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals. It has a diverse range of ecological and biochemical functions, including display, evasion, photoprotection, detoxification, and metal scavenging. To date, evidence of melanin in fossil organisms has relied entirely on indirect morphological and chemical analyses. Here, we apply direct chemical techniques to categorically demonstrate the preservation of eumelanin in two >160 Ma Jurassic cephalopod ink sacs and to confirm its chemical similarity to the ink of the modern cephalopod, Sepia officinalis. Identification and characterization of degradation-resistant melanin may provide insights into its diverse roles in ancient organisms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)10218-10223
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number26
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2012


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