What could the plumage of extinct birds have to do with the creation/evolution controversy?
Scientists examining fossilized birds said to be 100 million years old have been able to interpret the color patterns of the feathers. Writing in Biology Letters, the researchers describe how the feathers displayed “striking” black-and-white bands. Previous microscopic analysis of the bands had showed a granular texture composed of thousands of tiny flattened spheres. Originally interpreted as fossilized bacteria, they are now recognized as melanosomes, cells that cluster in the dark areas of modern birds. By understanding the location and arrangement of melanosomes on modern birds, paleontologists may be able to reconstruct the plumage colors of other fossilized birds, and the team hopes it may eventually extend the technique to deciphering fur colors or even eye colors. For years, the banding had been of disputed origin. The University of Bristol’s Mike Benton, commenting on the work, explained: “The banding looks so life-like that it can’t be geological in origin—it has to be biolog