Ancient Preen Oil: Researchers Discover 48-million-year-old Lipids in a Fossil Bird

Frankfurt / Germany, 17th October 2017. As a rule, soft parts do not withstand the ravages of time; hence, the majority of vertebrate fossils consist only of bones. Under these circumstances, a new discovery from the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Messel Pit” near Darmstadt in Germany comes as an even bigger surprise: a 48-million-year old skin gland from a bird, containing lipids of the same age. The oldest lipids ever recorded in a fossil vertebrate were used by the bird to preen its plumage. The study is now published in the scientific journal “Royal Society Proceedings B.” (Mehr in: Pressemitteilungen – idw – Informationsdienst Wissenschaft)