Academic journal article Science Scope

300-Million-Year-Old Insects in 3-D

Academic journal article Science Scope

300-Million-Year-Old Insects in 3-D

Article excerpt

Stunning 3-D images of 300-million-year-old insects have been revealed for the first time by University of Manchester researchers. The scientists have used a high-resolution form of CT scanning to reconstruct two 305-million-year-old juvenile insects. Without the pioneering approach to imaging, these tiny insects--which are three-dimensional holes in a rock--would have been impossible to study.

By placing the fossils in a CT scanner and taking over 3,000 x-rays from different angles, the scientists were able to create 2,000 slices showing the fossil in cross section. From these slices the researchers created 3-D digital reconstructions of the fossils. This process allows them to learn more about the lifestyle, biology, and diet of the insects, one of which is similar to a modern-day cockroach, and glimpse fascinating insights about how both were adapted for survival.

One of the insects reconstructed by the scientists is characterized by a large number of sharp spines. It is a new species and genus that does not exist today. The other is an early predecessor of one of the great survivors of the insect world, the cockroach, and is one of the best preserved examples of this age ever seen by insect paleontologists. …

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