Paleontology is the science of studying fossils of plants and animals that were living in ancient times. The first condition for a fossil to be created is that the animals or the plants must be protected by soil or other factors and they shouldn’t have contact with air. Thus only a small portion of animals or plants are fossilized in hard stones available. Because of concealment in hard material, the fossil is only partially visible. For example, the holes and cavities in the skull of a fossilized animal cannot be seen properly. If scientists want to examine fossils deeply, they have to open them up and cut the stone that is concealing the fossil, in mechanical and physical examinations, the fossil may be harmed or even be destroyed entirely, especially fossils of little animals and insects which are trapped in amber. Many of these specimens are rare and ancient. Also sometimes the amber is too cloudy for a light-based examination, and other methods must be utilized.
3D imaging methods such as X-ray micro Computed Tomography (CT) are favorite tools among paleontologists. In this non-destructive method there are sectional images from fossils without harming them. Sometimes even if destroying the fossil is non-consequential, by using micro CT we can omit the sectioning process and have a faster process. Utilizing micro-CT is especially helpful in anatomical and functional morphological studies.
In some cases, we have forged fossils and we can determine their authenticity using micro-CT data. Micro-CT not only gives 2D sectional images but also 3D high resolution models. Its digital data can be easily shared or archived and data sharing between scientists will be facilitated. By using 3D models many scientists can virtually access the specimens which are not readily available; they can non-destructively fly through the fossils, virtually cut the fossils, and access any point of it or zoom on it. Also, quantification can be easily done. Digital data can be used to measure dimensions, angles, volumes and any other metric parameters quantitatively.
As you see micro-CT can be very instrumental in developing and expanding paleontology science and now for the first time in Iran, here in Behin Negareh company, using LOTUS-NDT micro-CT imaging system we can give services to paleontologists.
(Image reference: B. Rowe, Timothy; Luo, Zhe-Xi; A. Ketcham, Richard; W. Colbert, Matthew; Maisano, Jessica A. (2016): X-ray computed tomography datasets for forensic analysis of vertebrate fossils. figshare. Collection)