February 13, 2024 | David F. Coppedge

More Original Molecules Found in “Old” Fossils

Scientists astonished:
original color molecules from snails

still present after 12 million Darwin Years


One can learn a lot about believers in Deep Time
by looking at their surprised looks at evidence of youth.


Press release: Surprisingly vibrant colour of 12-million-year-old snail shells (University of Göttingen, 6 Feb 2024). “Researchers provide world’s first evidence of intact polyene pigments in fossils,” the subtitle reads. Notice the word “astonishing” after the scientists relate that the color molecules in the snail shells should decay rapidly.

Snail shells are often colourful and strikingly patterned. This is due to pigments that are produced in special cells of the snail and stored in the shell in varying concentrations. Fossil shells, on the other hand, are usually pale and inconspicuous because the pigments are very sensitive and have already decomposed. Residues of ancient colour patterns are therefore very rare. This makes this new discovery by researchers from the University of Göttingen and the Natural History Museum Vienna (NHMW) all the more astonishing: they found pigments in twelve-million-year-old fossilised snail shells. These are the world’s first pigments from the chemical group of polyenes that have been preserved almost unchanged and found in fossils. The study was published in the journal Palaeontology.

The researchers used Raman spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of the color molecules. They found original polyenes. “Polyenes are a class of broad spectrum antifungal compounds with a cyclic amphiphilic macrolide substructure which are derived from a species of Streptomyces bacteria,” according to a search. They are ubiquitous in biological organisms, but do not form abiotically.

“it was really surprising to discover these pigments, preserved almost intact, in fossils that are twelve million years old.”

Did the researchers expect to find polyenes in these fossil snail shells?

Dr Klaus Wolkenstein, who led the study and has been researching the chemistry of fossil pigments at Göttingen University for many years, explains: “Normally, after such a long period of time, the best we can hope for is that there are traces of degradation products of these chemicals. If degraded, however, these compounds would be devoid of colour. So, it was really surprising to discover these pigments, preserved almost intact, in fossils that are twelve million years old.

Photos of the snail shells can be seen in the paper in Palaeontology (1 Feb 2024), reproduced below.

Examples of coloured Miocene and modern gastropods used for Raman measurements. . Scale bar represents 1 cm. Click for link to source paper. Do these shells look millions of years old?

The authors, Wolkenstein et al., make this remark:

Polyene pigments are widely distributed in the three domains of life and are responsible for most yellow, orange and red colours observed in nature….

The discovery of still intact polyene pigments in gastropod shells of Middle Miocene (Sarmatian) age is highly surprising, since the preservation potential of unsaturated polyene pigments such as carotenes in contrast to hydrogenated carotenoids is very low.

Twelve million Darwin Years represents two thousand times recorded history. If we don’t expect to find intact polyenes in snail shells from ancient Rome or Ur, why should anyone expect them to survive 12 million Darwin Years? Notice the surprise in this claim:

  • They were preserved “almost intact.”
  • They still have the original color.
  • Polyenes “include the well-known ‘carotenoids’, which are responsible for producing the vibrant red, orange and yellow colours seen in birds’ feathers, carrots and egg yolks, for instance.” Those don’t last long, as everyone knows.
  • The fossils were found “on the shores of a tropical sea” where degradation would have been rapid.
  • The molecules were preserved “almost unchanged.”

The researchers did not consider the possibility that these fossils are much younger than claimed.

Deep Time is the assumption that underlies frequent astonishment. See a list by Dr Brian Thomas of original molecules and soft tissues that have been discovered in fossils. See his presentation about this on YouTube. These published findings in peer-reviewed journals post severe upper limits on Deep Time, squashing it down to recent thousands of years. There’s no excuse for hiding one’s evolutionary beliefs in millions of years. The fossils say no.



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