Shown here is an artist’s conception of the pigmentation patterns in Confuciusornis sanctus, an ~120 million year old species, the oldest documented to display a fully derived avian beak. Patterns are based on chemical maps of copper and other trace metals in several fossils of this organism. Trace metals, copper especially, are found to exhibit patterns which reveal eumelanin pigment distribution in the living organism. In the background is a picture of one of the fossils used to derive the artist’s drawing. Credit: Drawing of C. sanctus is by Richard Hartley, University of Manchester. Photo by T. Larson, courtesy of the Black Hills Institute. Image created by Gregory Stewart, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
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