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eLife: Preserved anatomy in 30 million-year-old mineralized insects

eLife: Preserved anatomy in 30 million-year-old mineralized insects - image 

Scientists discovered well-preserved three-dimensional anatomy in 30-million-year old mineralized beetlesat at ANKA’s TOPO-TOMO beamline.

Investigation of fossil arthropods like insects is largely restricted to external morphology, lacking information about internal characters which are crucial to establishing systematic position, ecological role and evolutionary trends. Moreover, the fossil record of arthropods containing internal characters is dominated by amber inclusions, which show representational bias.

By employing synchrotron X-ray microtomography at ANKA’s TOPO-TOMO beamline, a team led by  scientists from the University of Bonn and KIT discovered well-preserved three-dimensional anatomy in 30-million-year old mineralized beetles from the fissure fillings in Quercy (south-central France), facilitating a detailed description of the species and its systematic relationship.

Despite being known for over a century, these fossils have been neglected for decades, mainly because of the poor condition of their outer surfaces. Modern X-ray imaging techniques now provided an incredibly detailed look at their internal structures. The results, which were published in the journal eLife, demonstrate that mineralized fossils, even those of apparently poor preservation, constitute a rich but yet largely unexploited source of anatomical data of fossil arthropods.

eLife: Preserved anatomy in 30 million-year-old mineralized insects - image

The rock (brown) preserved the beetle as a fossil. Ephemeral soft tissue and fragile limbs are represented excellently in three dimensions. (Photo: A. Schwermann / Th. van de Kamp / KIT)

 

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Dr Thomas van de Kamp, KIT, IPS, Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany / phone: 0049 (0)721 608 28655 / email: thomas.vandekamp@kit.edu

 
 
last update by KIT on 3/3/2016 3:25:56 PM

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