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Hollow fossil melanosomes suggest earliest appearance of brilliant iridescent color in bird feathers


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SEM and TEM observations of the feathers on an Early Cretaceous basal bird Eoconfuciusornis, from 130-million-year old lake deposits in Fengning, Hebei Province in northern China, present the earliest record of hollow melansomes from feathers. They are preserved as rods with air holes and roughly circular in cross section. "I am very surprised by this observation, if proven true, it would be a really exciting discovery," says Dr. Pan Yanhong, who led this study. 

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