Data from: Synchrotron-X-ray absorption spectroscopy of melanosomes in vertebrates and cephalopods: implications for the affinity of Tullimonstrum
Rogers, Christopher et al. (2019), Data from: Synchrotron-X-ray absorption spectroscopy of melanosomes in vertebrates and cephalopods: implications for the affinity of Tullimonstrum, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.c5c7601
Screening pigments are essential for vision in animals. Vertebrates utilise melanins bound in melanosomes as screening pigments, whereas cephalopods are assumed to use ommochromes. Preserved eye melanosomes in the controversial fossil Tullimonstrum (Mazon Creek, Illinois) display size-and/or shape-specific are present in geometrically distinct layers that resemble tissue-specific melanosome populations considered unique to the vertebrate eye. Here, we show that extant cephalopod eyes also show tissue-specific size- and/or shape-specific partitioning of melanosomes; these differ from vertebrate melanosomes in the relative abundance of trace metals and in the binding environment of Cu. Chemical signatures of melanosomes in the eyes of Tullimonstrum more closely resemble those of modern cephalopods than those of vertebrates, suggesting that an invertebrate affinity for Tullimonstrum is plausible. Melanosome chemistry may thus provide insights into the phylogenetic affinities of enigmatic fossils where melanosome size and/or shape is are equivocal.