The color of bubble gum, flamingos and cotton candy — bright pink — is the world’s oldest color, according to a recent study.

Researchers discovered the ancient pink pigments in 1.1-billion-year-old rocks deep beneath the Sahara Desert in the Taoudeni Basin of Mauritania, West Africa, making them the oldest colors in the geological record.

According to Dr. Nur Gueneli, who discovered the pigments as part of her PhD studies at Australia National University, the bright pink colors are more than 500 million years older than the next oldest known pigments and were produced by ancient ocean organisms.

“The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished,” Dr. Gueneli said in a news release.

To discover the pigments, researchers crushed billion-year-old rocks into powder, and extracted and analyzed the molecules of ancient organisms within them.