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Repainting Ancient Birds

Using synchrotron rapid scanning X-ray fluorescence to map the distribution of trace metals in avian fossils over 120 million-year-old, researchers reconstruct the pigment patterns of their feathers—revealing some of the extinct birds' long-lost colors.

By Megan Scudellari | July 1, 2011

An artist’s conception of the pigmentation patterns in the 120 million-year-old Confuciusornis sanctus—the oldest documented bird to display a beak. Patterns are based on chemical maps of copper and other trace metals in several fossils of this organism.Richard Hartley, University of Manchester

An artist’s conception of the pigmentation patterns in the 120 million-year-old Confuciusornis sanctus—the oldest documented bird to display a beak. Patterns are based on chemical maps of copper and other trace metals in several fossils of this organism.Richard Hartley, University of Manchester

Repainting Ancient Birds Image Gallery

By Megan Scudellari | July 1, 2011

Using synchrotron rapid scanning X-ray fluorescence to map the distribution of trace metals in avian fossils over 120 million-year-old, researchers reconstruct the pigment patterns of their feathers—revealing some of the extinct birds' long-lost colors.

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