The Colors of Dinosaurs Open a New Window to Study the Past
by Riley Black Smithsonian.com
On December 9, 1833, the English fossil collector Elizabeth Philpot sent a letter to naturalist William Buckland. In addition to requesting back some vertebrae of a marine reptile Buckland had borrowed, Philpot also included notes on a recent trip with a young upstart fossil hound—the pioneering paleontologist Mary Anning. But what made the note special was an illustration Philpot had included with the letter. It depicted the toothy smile of an Ichthyosaurus skull, drawn after one of the many such fossils that Philpot, her sisters and Anning were finding in the ancient rocks of England’s southern coast. And it wasn’t drawn in any ordinary ink. The sepia tones were made from the preserved ink of a squid-like creature found in the same deposits as the ichthyosaur, revitalized after 200 million years.
On the surface, Philpot’s drawing might only seem to be a neat fossiliferous trick. In 2009, another drawing made from ancient ink kicked up renewed attention for the surprising fact that traces of prehistoric color could persist to the 21st century. But the fact that such primordial shades can be recovered at all opens up a realm of scientific possibility. With the right specimens, experts can start to color in the fossil record.
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.
She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with her husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescues.