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
Geophysicists and atmospheric scientists partner to track typhoons' seismic footprints
16.02.2018 | Princeton University
NASA finds strongest storms in weakening Tropical Cyclone Sanba
15.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences
20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering
20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy