"(ScienceDaily May 21, 2012) — two ink sacs from 160-million-year-old giant cephalopod fossils discovered two years ago in England contain the pigment melanin, and that it is essentially identical to the melanin found in the ink sac of a modern-day cuttlefish.
The study is published online in the May 21 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The finding -- in an extremely rare case of being able to study organic material that is hundreds of millions of years old -- suggests that the ink-screen escape mechanism of cephalopods -- cuttlefish, squid and octopuses -- has not evolved since the Jurassic period, and that melanin could be preserved intact in the fossils of a range of organisms.
"Though the other organic components of the cephalopod we studied are long gone, we've discovered through a variety of research methods that the melanin has remained in a condition that could be studied in exquisite detail," said John Simon, one of the study authors, a chemistry professor and the executive vice president and provost at U.Va.
One of the ink sacs studied is the only intact ink sac ever discovered. . ."