Hóa thạch nguyên vẹn sau 120 triệu năm hé lộ bí mất bất ngờ về động vật thời tiền sử

Hóa thạch nguyên vẹn sau 120 triệu năm hé lộ bí mất bất ngờ về động vật thời tiền sử


Mới đây, thông qua một mẫu hóa thạch mắt ở trong tình trạng gần như “tuyệt hảo”, các nhà khoa học Trung Quốc đã tìm thấy 1 bí mật bất ngờ về các loài chim và động vật thời tiền sử.


Vào khoảng năm 2013 tại tỉnh Liêu Ninh (Trung Quốc), 1 nhà sưu tập địa phương đã tìm thấy một hóa thạch chim dài khoảng 12 mét, thuộc chi Sẻ nhà hiện đại. Mẫu hóa thạch này có niên đại 120 triệu năm, vẫn còn đủ cổ, đuôi, móng và đặc biệt là các mô mềm mắt – bao gồm các tế bào nón và tế bào que – ở trong trạng thái hóa thạch “hoàn hảo”. Được biết, ngay sau khi tìm thấy, nhà sưu tập trên đã tặng cho Bảo tàng Lịch sử Tự nhiên Thượng Hải.

“Đây là lần đầu tiên trên thế giới, 1 hóa thạch mắt chim vẫn còn nguyên các mô mềm được tìm thấy”, ông Baochun Zhou – Phó Giáo sư Cổ sinh vật học tại bảo tàng này cho biết.

Hóa thạch nguyên vẹn sau 120 triệu năm hé lộ bí mất bất ngờ về động vật thời tiền sử

Mẫu hóa thạch chim cổ đại được tìm thấy ở Liêu Ninh (Trung Quốc). Ô vuông màu đen cho thấy vị trí hóa thạch mắt gần như còn nguyên vẹn sau 120 triệu năm.

Giống như mắt người, mắt chim cũng có các tế bào nón và que nằm trong phần mô cảm nhận ánh sáng ở mặt cầu sau của mắt. Tuy nhiên, các loài chim vẫn cần có giọt dầu xuất nằm ở đầu của các tế bào nón cảm nhận màu – đóng vai trò tương tự như bộ lọc màu trên các ống kính máy ảnh – để phân biệt màu sắc. Ví dụ như để cảm nhận màu đỏ, não chim sẽ ra lệnh tiết các giọt dầu đỏ vào các tế bào nón chuyên cảm nhận màu đỏ, giúp mắt chim nhận ra màu sắc này.

Bấy lâu này, các nhà khoa học thường cho suy đoán rằng hệ thống quang học của các tế bào hình nón, vốn rất phức tạp, chỉ xuất hiện ở chim và các loài động vật hiện đại khác, đồng nghĩa với việc các loại chim và động vật cổ đại dường như bị mù màu?

Tuy nhiên, sau quá trình dày công nghiên cứu, các nhà khoa học cuối cùng đã tìm thấy 1 bí mật có thể hé lộ một phần lịch sử quan trọng trong ngành Cổ sinh vật học. Theo đó, dưới kính hiển vi điện tử, các giọt dầu trong mô mềm mắt hóa thạch có cùng cỡ so với chim hiện đại.

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Hình ảnh phóng to mẫu mắt hóa thạch.

“Có lẽ, loài chim đã tuyệt chủng này là một động vật vào ban ngày và có khả năng phân biệt các màu sắc khác nhau”, ông Zhou giải thích.

Nếu đây là sự thật thì mẫu hóa thạch đã chứng minh được 1 điều: hệ thống quang học của các tế bào hình nón đã xuất hiện cách đây 120 triệu năm trước – hay nói 1 cách khác: chim và có thể là cả các loài động vật cổ đại không hề mù màu!

Hiện tại, theo ông Zhou, nhóm nghiên cứu vẫn đặt pháp danh khoa học cho loài chim có niên đại từ Kỷ Cretaceous này. Tuy nhiên, nhóm này nhận định có thể con vật này thuộc nhóm Á điểu – 1 nhóm chim đã tuyệt chủng vào cuối kỷ Mesozoic (cách đây khoảng 66 triệu năm về trước).


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