Author: Tafforeau, P.
Paper Title Page
X-RAY Synchrotron Imaging: A Revolution in Paleontology  
  • P. Tafforeau
    ESRF, Grenoble, France
  In palaeontology, external morphological investigations are often insufficient. Both external and internal anatomical characters have to be taken into account in order to fully understand a fossil organism. Moreover, different scales of study have to be used, from the general morphological ones to the histological ones. Initiated at the ESRF in 2000, synchrotron based investigations enable very high quality three-dimensional non-destructive X-ray imaging of various fossils. These methods reveal fossil internal structures with incomparable accuracy and sensitivity. It therefore allows the study of fossils that cannot be investigated by conventional microtomography either due to a high degree of mineralization or low absorption contrast. Among many applications, let's cite: identification of insects trapped in opaque amber, dental developmental pattern of fossil hominids, imaging of microscopic fossils, high quality imaging of large fossils, research of fossil embryos in ovo… Through the strong development of palaeontology, and the running projects to improve dramatically the possibilities for fossils investigations, the ESRF appear nowadays as the most powerful and sensitive tool for non-destructive 3D imaging on fossils. Nevertheless technical possibilities offered by synchrotrons are evolving rapidly, especially within the time scale of paleontology.  
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