Palaeontology

Synchrotron light has been long used in paleontology. Many fossils are analyzed with X-ray microscope to view the interior of precious specimens without cracking them. Three-dimensional tomography can be reconstructed to visualize the details inside these fossils.

Revealing the healing of Dino-sores

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Diamond Light Source, Oxfordshire, UK

Scientists have used state-of-the-art imaging techniques to examine the cracks, fractures and breaks in the bones of a 150 million-year-old predatory dinosaur.

The University of Manchester researchers say their groundbreaking work sheds new light, literally, on the healing process that took place when these magnificent animals were still alive.

The research took advantage of the fact that dinosaur bones occasionally preserve evidence of trauma, sickness and the subsequent signs of healing. Diagnosis of such fossils used to rely on the grizzly inspection of gnarled bones and healed fractures, often entailing slicing through a fossil to reveal its secrets. But the synchrotron-based imaging meant the team could tease out the chemical ghosts lurking within the preserved dinosaur bones.

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Diving Deep Into Dinosaur Pigment

MAX IV Laboratory, Lund University, Sweden

For the first time, scientists have decoded the full-body color patterns of a dinosaur. Scientists are hoping to use this improved knowledge of dinosaur coloration to better understand how some prehistoric animals behaved and why feathers evolved in the first place.

The subject of this study—the 155-million-year-old Anchiornis huxleyi—turns out to have looked something like a woodpecker the size of a chicken, with black-and-white spangled wings and a rusty red crown.

The team behind the new study determined the feather colors by analyzing the shape and density of melanosomes within fossil feathers. Melanosomes are nanoscale, pigment-bearing organelles within feathers.

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Organic Remains in Fossil Embryo of a Dinosaur

National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center, Taiwan

Synchrotron light has been used to discover the earliest fossil embryos from China. The specimin was confirmed as the oldest evidence of preservation of organic remains in situ in a fossil.

The fossil was found in a monotaxic bone bed near Dawa, Lufeng County, Yunnan Province, China. Such a monotaxic bone bed allows scientists to study the development and growth of a single species. The bone bed is dated from the Early Jurassic (Sinemurian) period, about 190-197 million years ago, temporally equivalent to the oldest known dinosaurian embryos preserved in South Africa.

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