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Research Article

Fossilized Biophotonic Nanostructures Reveal the Original Colors of 47-Million-Year-Old Moths

  • Maria E. McNamara mail,

    maria.mcnamara@yale.edu

    Affiliations: Department of Geology & Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America, UCD School of Geological Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland

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  • Derek E. G. Briggs,

    Affiliations: Department of Geology & Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America

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  • Patrick J. Orr,

    Affiliation: UCD School of Geological Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland

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  • Sonja Wedmann,

    Affiliation: Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum, Forschungsstation Grube Messel, Messel, Germany

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  • Heeso Noh,

    Affiliation: Department of Applied Physics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America

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  • Hui Cao

    Affiliation: Department of Applied Physics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America

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  • Published: November 15, 2011
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001200

Reader Comments (2)

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Heavy-metal staining of fossil organic materials

Posted by Broadlands on 16 Nov 2011 at 15:54 GMT

A minor comment on the TEM study. Arthropod cuticle is made primarily of a chitin-protein complex. As the cuticle in these fossils is unmineralized and has been well-preserved structurally but not chemically, the experimental protocol for the TEM study could have eliminated the heavy metal staining step. Heavy-metals work well to stain proteins for the TEM, but do nothing for the electron-density of polysaccharides like chitin or cellulose.

No competing interests declared.