Fossil Melanin Pigments—Reconstructing Dinosaur Colouration

Jakob Vinther, University of Bristol
Wednesday, October 18, 4:00pm to 5:00pm

The discovery that melanin pigments preserve routinely in exceptional fossils, provide a fascinating avenue to understand novel aspects of the appearance of extinct animals, such as the colouration of dinosaurs. Several advances have been made in the last decade or so that provide us with the ability to detect a range of hues, including structural iridescence through the preservation of melanosome organelles and more recently we have been able to chemically characterize these pigments via mass spectroscopic methods. In this talk I will discuss the how fossil melanin reveal novel aspects of extinct animal behaviour and appearance as well as methodologies we have developed to study precious museum specimens.

About the Speaker

My research spans the study of evolution from the perspective of the fossil record and other disciplines such as molecular biology. I focus on invertebrate groups such as annelids and molluscs and test our ideas of their evolution and their fossil record with molecular biological techniques to obtain independent estimates of phylogeny and divergence timing. I also have a particular interest in fossilization processes: Taphonomy. Currently I am working on the preservation of melanin in fossils and how we can use this evidence to reconstruct color patterns in feathered dinosaurs.

About the Series

EAPS interdisciplinary Department Lecture Series (DLS) brings both national and international speakers into the department to share their work. In addition EAPS sponsors a number of annual flagship named lectures, among them the Brace Lecture, the Kendall Lecture, and the Carlson Lecture. All such lectures and seminars are free and open to the public. To be added to EAPS event listserve contact Brandon Milardo, .