16 June 2010
100 Million year old Mammal hair
According to the BBC palaeontologists have discovered two mammal hairs encased in 100 million-year-old amber that was found in the Font-de-Benon quarry at Archingeay-Les Nouillers in Charente-Maritime, southwest France.
The hairs, found alongside a fly pupa in amber uncovered in southwest France, are remarkably similar to hair found on modern mammals - which implies that the shape and structure of mammal hair has remained unchanged over a vast period of time.
"We have 2D hair imprints as early as the Middle Jurassic," says Dr Romain Vullo of the University of Rennes, France, who discovered the hair.
"However, carbonised hair provides much less information about the structure than a 3D hair preserved in amber," says Dr Vullo. "Our specimens are the oldest known hair specimens in which we can observe the cuticular structure."
The first hair fragment is 2.4mm long and 32 to 48 micrometres wide, while the second is just 0.6mm long and 49 to 78 micrometres wide. A close analysis showed they have a very similar cuticular structure to those of hair or fur carried by modern mammals. The identity of the animal that shed the hair is not known.
Ach so that’s where my first grey hair went...