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Pushing the limits of neutron tomography in palaeontology: Three-dimensional modelling of in situ resin within fossil plants
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Research Office, B3, New Illawarra Road, Lucas Heights, NSW 2234, Australia.
School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University, 9 Rainforest Walk, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia.
2017 (English)In: Palaeontologia Electronica, ISSN 1935-3952, E-ISSN 1094-8074, Vol. 20, no 3.57A, p. 1-12Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Computed tomography is an increasingly popular technique for the non-destructive

study of fossils. Whilst the science of X-ray computed tomography (CT) has greatly

matured since its first fossil applications in the early 1980s, the applications and limitations

of neutron tomography (NT) remain relatively unexplored in palaeontology. These

highest resolution neutron tomographic scans in palaeontology to date were conducted

on a specimen of Austrosequoia novae-zeelandiae (Ettingshausen) Mays and Cantrill

recovered from mid-Cretaceous (Cenomanian; ~100–94 Ma) strata of the Chatham

Islands, eastern Zealandia. Previously, the species has been identified with in situ fossil

resin (amber); the new neutron tomographic analyses demonstrated an anomalously

high neutron attenuation signal for fossil resin. The resulting data provided a

strong contrast between, and distinct three-dimensional representations of the: 1) fossil

resin; 2) coalified plant matter; and 3) sedimentary matrix. These data facilitated an

anatomical model of endogenous resin bodies within the cone axis and bract-scale

complexes. The types and distributions of resin bodies support a close alliance with

Sequoia Endlicher (Cupressaceae), a group of conifers whose extant members are

only found in the Northern Hemisphere. This study demonstrates the feasibility of NT

as a means to differentiate chemically distinct organic compounds within fossils.

Herein, we make specific recommendations regarding: 1) the suitability of fossil preservation

styles for NT; 2) the conservation of organic specimens with hydrogenous consolidants

and adhesives; and 3) the application of emerging methods (e.g., neutron

phase contrast) for further improvements when imaging fine-detailed anatomical structures.

These findings demonstrate that we are still far from reaching the conceptual

limits of NT as a means of virtually extracting fossils, or imaging their internal anatomy

even when embedded within a rock matrix.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Boulder: Paleontology Society , 2017. Vol. 20, no 3.57A, p. 1-12
Keywords [en]
Neutron tomography, resin, seed cone, Cupressaceae, Cretaceous, conservation
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Ecosystems and species history
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-2659DOI: 10.26879/808OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-2659DiVA, id: diva2:1166778
Available from: 2017-12-15 Created: 2017-12-15Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(5153 kB)19 downloads
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Publisher's full texthttps://doi.org/10.26879/808palaeo-electronica.org/content/2017/2066-neutron-scan-plant-resin

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