Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Unlock Nature’s Secret Preserver - Fool’s Gold

19.10.2004


Scientists have made a rare discovery from over 500 million years ago that provides new information on how a record of the past was perfectly preserved by nature.



Geologists at the University of Leicester have found that pyrite - or fool’s gold - replaced soft tissues, thereby preserving animals to their smallest details for posterity.

Dr Sarah Gabbott and colleagues, of the University of Leicester Department of Geology, found creatures with the very hairs on their legs preserved and, in some cases, the contents of their last meals could be identified in the guts of animals. Details of how pyrite preserves these ancient creatures were published this month in Geology, published by the Geological Society of America.


Dr Gabbott said: "In the Yunnan Province, China, the Chengjiang sediments have contained within them unique and exquisitely preserved fossils. Although these animal remains are over 500 million years old nearly every detail of their anatomy can be studied, from the spiny proboscis of ancient worms to the hairs on the legs of primitive arthropods. These animals lived in the Cambrian sea and record what life was like just after the Cambrian ’evolutionary explosion’ - a crucial time in the history of life on Earth.

"Until now the processes that acted to preserve these animals have been poorly understood. Our study shows that a common mineral, pyrite (often known as fool’s gold) rapidly precipitated onto the rapidly decaying carcasses of the Chengjiang animals and faithfully captured their morphology.

"If pyrite had not replaced these tissues all of the fossils simply wouldn’t exist as many are entirely made from easily decayed soft tissues. If we didn’t have these animals preserved we would have no idea of the weird and wonderful animals of the Cambrian seas, more than 500 million years ago.

"Even more remarkable is that the type of soft tissue may have influenced the shape of the mineralizing pyrite crystals. Raspberry shaped pyrites, termed framboids, replaced easily decayed animals and tissues, whereas, perfect octahedral and cubic shapes reflect animals and tissues that were tougher and so decayed more slowly."

Ather Mirza | alfa
Further information:
http://www.le.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica
05.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica

05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Shape matters when light meets atom

05.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”

05.12.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>