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Johan Lindgren

Johan Lindgren

Senior lecturer

Johan Lindgren

Molecular composition and ultrastructure of Jurassic paravian feathers.


  • Johan Lindgren
  • Peter Sjövall
  • Ryan M Carney
  • Aude Cincotta
  • Per Uvdal
  • Steven W Hutcheson
  • Ola Gustafsson
  • Ulysse Lefèvre
  • François Escuillié
  • Jimmy Heimdal
  • Anders Engdahl
  • Johan Gren
  • Benjamin P Kear
  • Kazumasa Wakamatsu
  • Johan Yans
  • Pascal Godefroit

Summary, in English

Feathers are amongst the most complex epidermal structures known, and they have a well-documented evolutionary trajectory across non-avian dinosaurs and basal birds. Moreover, melanosome-like microbodies preserved in association with fossil plumage have been used to reconstruct original colour, behaviour and physiology. However, these putative ancient melanosomes might alternatively represent microorganismal residues, a conflicting interpretation compounded by a lack of unambiguous chemical data. We therefore used sensitive molecular imaging, supported by multiple independent analytical tests, to demonstrate that the filamentous epidermal appendages in a new specimen of the Jurassic paravian Anchiornis comprise remnant eumelanosomes and fibril-like microstructures, preserved as endogenous eumelanin and authigenic calcium phosphate. These results provide novel insights into the early evolution of feathers at the sub-cellular level, and unequivocally determine that melanosomes can be preserved in fossil feathers.


  • Lithosphere and Biosphere Science
  • Chemical Physics
  • Functional zoology
  • MAX IV Laboratory

Publishing year





Scientific Reports



Document type

Journal article


Nature Publishing Group


  • Geology




  • ISSN: 2045-2322