Fossil melanosomes or bacteria? A wealth of findings favours melanosomes
The discovery of fossil melanosomes has resulted in a wealth of research over the last 7 years, notably the reconstruction of colour in dinosaurs and fossil mammals. In spite of these discoveries some authors persist in arguing that the observed microbodies could represent preserved bacteria. They contend that bacteria fossilise easily and everywhere, which means that one can never be certain that a microbody is a melanosome without an extraordinary burden of evidence. However, this critique mischaracterises the morphological and structural evidence for interpreting microbodies as fossil melanosomes, and hence the basis for using them in reconstructing prehistoric colours. The claims for bacterial omnipresence in the fossil record are themselves not supported, thus tipping the scales strongly towards melanosomes in the bacteria-versus-melanosome controversy.