In a paper published in the latest issue of the Zootaxa journal, Dr David Penney and co-authors from Ghent University in Belgium report on the use of a technique called ‘Very High Resolution X-Ray Computed Tomography’ (VHR-CT) to ‘digitally dissect’ tiny fossils and reveal the preservation of internal organs.
Dr Penney, from The School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (SEAES), specialises in studying spiders trapped and preserved in amber tens of millions of years ago.
The male spider studied in his latest paper is a new species named Cenotextricella simoni. It is around 53-million years old and was found preserved in amber in an area of France known as the Paris Basin.
This is the first time the VHR-CT technique has been used to digitally dissect a fossil in amber – and Dr Penney says it has the potential to ‘revolutionise’ their study.
The VHR-CT technique was originally developed for medical diagnostic purposes.
Dr Penney said: “This technique essentially generates full 3D reconstructions of minute fossils and permits digital dissection of the specimen to reveal the preservation of internal organs.
“Up until recently the only place to do such scans was at The University of Texas, although they never achieved results like these.
“My colleagues in the department of Subatomic and Radiation Physics at Ghent University in Belgium have significantly increased the resolution of the technology, bringing some quite amazing results.
“This is definitely the way forward for the study of amber fossils.
“Amber provides a unique window into past forest ecosystems. It retains an incredible amount of information, not just about the spiders themselves, but also about the environment in which they lived.”
Dr Penney is currently spending an indefinite period in the African jungle in a ‘living laboratory' studying spiders.
Earlier this year, a species of spider which dates back more than 20 million years was named after Dr Penney. The amber-encased spider which was discovered deep in a Mexican mine is thought to have lived long before the first humans.
It was found by a Mexican researcher who earned the right to name the species and he chose the name ‘Episinus penneyi’ in honour of his former colleague.
Jon Keighren | alfa
NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system
21.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy