The fossils range from blood red to deep purple in their concentrated form, and bright pink when diluted, accorrding to the scientists.
Aussie scientists have discovered the world's oldest colour after extracting pigment from 1.1 billion-year-old rocks buried deep beneath Africa's Sahara Desert.
After crushing the very, very, very old rocks to a powder and analysing the molecules of ancient organisms, researchers struck gold. The bright pink color is believed to be more than half a billion years older than other prehistoric pigments.
Everything has a colour and colours go back to the beginning of time. It is a molecule that had a biological colour more than a billion years ago and still has one today.
"Imagine you would find fossilised dinosaur skin that after 100 million years was still iridescent green or blue", Jochen Brocks, an associate professor at ANU, said. To give context, the molecular fossils the team found were 10 times older than a Tyrannosaurus rex would have been.
The new findings shed new light on the evolution of life on Earth. Once there, it must be isolated from any exposure to oxygen, which spurs decay, and then the rock that holds the material has to remain in one piece for a billion years, Brocks said. What they found inside could change the way we understand geology and the primordial world. The analysis confirmed that tiny cyanobacteria-a type of bacteria that obtain their energy through photosynthesis-dominated the base of the food chain in Earth's early oceans, billions of years ago.
The pigments found were produced by photosynthetic organisms that inhabited an ancient ocean.
The limited supply of larger food particles is likely the reason it took so long for larger creatures to emerge.
"Algae, although still microscopic, are a thousand times larger in volume than cyanobacteria, and are a much richer food source", Brocks said.
"The cyanobacterial oceans started to vanish about 650 million years ago, when algae began to rapidly spread to provide the burst of energy needed for the evolution of complex ecosystems, where large animals, including humans, could thrive on Earth".