Unprecedented: Scientists Identify a 3 Million-Year-Old ‘Mighty Mouse’ With Red Fur

The researchers have nicknamed the ancient fossil 'Mighty Mouse'.

Scientists have identified, for the first time ever, a reddish coloring in an ancient fossil of a 3-million-year-old mouse.

Using X-Rays, scientists revealed that an ancient, now-extinct mouse was covered in brown to red fur on its back.


According to reports from the National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists have, for the first time, found chemical traces of red pigment in the ancient fossil of a 3 million-year-old mouse.

The specimen, which was in excellent condition was unlike today’s mouse say, experts.

The ancient creature once roamed the fields where now stats the German village of Willershausen

Researchers have nicknamed the ancient fossil “mighty mouse” thanks to its brownish and reddish fur.

The discovery was detailed in a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The study, led by scientists from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom used X-ray spectroscopy and various other imaging techniques in order to identify the delicate chemical signature of pigments in the 3 million-year-old specimen.

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The specimen analysed by scientists. Image Credit: University of Gӧttingen.
The specimen analyzed by scientists. Image Credit: University of Gӧttingen.

“Life on Earth has littered the fossil record with a wealth of information that has only recently been accessible to science,” explained Phil Manning, a professor at Manchester who co-led the study.

“A suite of new imaging techniques can now be deployed, which permit us to peer deep into the chemical history of a fossil organism and the processes that preserved its tissues. Where once we saw simply minerals, now we gently unpick the ‘biochemical ghosts’ of long-extinct species.”

The study included scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory who used X-ray beams from SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource(SSRL) and the Diamond Light Source (DLS) in the U.K. to understand more about the specimen.

“The fossils used in this study preserve amazing structural detail, but our work emphasizes that such exceptional preservation may also lead to extraordinary chemical detail that changes our understanding of what is possible to resolve in fossils,” revealed Manchester professor of geochemistry Roy Wogelius, who co-led the study.

“Along the way we learned so much more about the chemistry of pigmentation throughout the animal kingdom”