The survival and preservation of original biomolecules in animals and plants dating back hundreds of millions of years, and the detection and characterisation of those is the fundamental problem in molecular palaeontology. Today, based on research made at MAX-lab and the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden in Borås, we know that pigment-bearing organelles, so-called melanosomes, can survive in a fish eye for at least 54 million years.
Furthermore, based on these findings we have discovered the colour scheme of three extinct marine reptiles, the oldest being 190 million years old, and that they were dark-coloured when living. Our discovery enables us to make a journey through time and revisit these prehistoric animals using their own biomolecules. Now, we can finally use our sophisticated molecular and imaging techniques to learn what these animals looked like and how they lived.