Colorful moth wings date back to the age of dinosaurs.


Tiny light-scattering structures allow today’s buses and moths to return to the age of dinosaurs.

In a report published on April 11, researchers said that the fossilized moth insects of the Jurassic period formed rainbow-like texture scales on their forewings. These fossils are the earliest known examples of insect structures, and they show the color of structures — the color produced by the light bending around the microstructures, rather than being absorbed and reflected by paint or dyes. Structural colors are common in bird feathers and butterfly wings today, but finding them in the fossil record can be tricky.
Scientists know that the size of ancient butterflies and moths seemed small, she said, because this level of detail is preserved in very few fossils and is not part of his job.
In the study, paleontologist Dr. Wang bo and his colleagues spent three years studying more than 500 extinct lepidoptera fossils. Mr. Wang, an academician at the Chinese academy of sciences, said most of the preservation work was not good enough and there were still residues on a scale. But there are six Jurassic fossils, the oldest of which is nearly 200 million years old. The researchers examined the microscopic wing structures of the specimen under a scanning electron microscope and then used a computer program to determine the color of the wings.

On the wings of the ancient moth were large scales covered with scales, and they had a series of parallel v-shaped ridges that formed human characters. Similar features can be seen in today’s Micropterigidae, a primitive moth family, Wang said. He and his team concluded from a computer analysis that the size and alignment of these structures allowed the moth’s wings to scatter light to reveal a range of bright colors.
Pete Vukusic, a biophysicist at the university of Exeter in the UK, said the modern structures of moth and butterfly wings were more subtle than the delicate structures of these fossilized insects, but he was not part of the study. But its wings are so fragile that the scales of the ancient lepidoptera may not have been preserved in the fossil record, he said.


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