UV Light Shows The Colors of 5 Million Year Old Seashell Fossils
by Owen James Burke
Researchers have identified 13 “new” species of cone snails after putting bleached-white snail shell fossils under UV lights to reveal their vibrant patterns. (Photo: Jonathan Hendricks via PLOS ONE)
Cone snails are a widely occurring snail with many subspecies, but for researchers studying their fossils, they have been difficult to distinguish, until recently. By placing shells under a UV light and reversing the colors, we can now see what these 4.8-6.6 million year old cone snail shells looked like in living color.
(Photo: Jonathan Hendricks via PLOS ONE)
Between sunlight and oxidation, all shells eventually turn white. Somehow, a UV light can expose patterns that no longer exist in natural light, but scientists can’t yet explain why.
Read more at Smithsonian Mag. — OJB