AUSTRALIA (CBS Local) – Scientists in Australia say they’ve discovered the oldest color found in nature: bright pink.

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) say they studied samples of rocks taken from deep beneath the Sahara desert and crushed the billion-year-old shale deposits down to unlock their true colors.

“The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished,” said Dr. Nur Gueneli from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences.

The findings, published in PNAS, add that the African fossils range in color from blood red to deep purple in their concentrated forms and pink when diluted in water.

The pink fossils are about 600 million years older than any other ancient pigments found in nature. Scientists added that the microscopic lifeforms may have been the original bottom of the food chain a billion years ago, before animals existed on Earth.

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