The color of dinosaurs is a fascinating topic. In recent years, the discovery of melanosomes – small, pigment-filled sacs – associated with fossilized dinosaur feathers has given rise to all sorts of speculation about our prehistoric pals, from the hue of their plumage to color’s impact on behavior. It all sounds wonderful – but how do we know that the melanosomes found in the fossils are actually melanosomes and not something else, like leftover impressions from the microbes (some of which also make melanin) that coated the feather during its decay and preservation? And if they are melanosomes, how can we be sure that the melanin they contained was the only color expression mechanism present?
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