Navigation Links
CT scan and 3-D print help scientists reconstruct an ancient mollusk

Using a combination of traditional and innovative model-building techniques, scientists in the U.S. and a specialist in Denmark have created a lifelike reconstruction of an ancient mollusk, offering a vivid portrait of a creature that lived about 390 million years ago, and answering questions about its place in the tree of life, as described in the Sept. 18 edition of the journal Palaeontology.

The model of the oval-shaped sea creature, called a multiplacophoran, which was covered with stiff plates and a ring of spines, resulted from a collaboration between Jakob Vinther, a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences, and Esben Horn, owner of the model making company 10 Tons in Copenhagen, with animation help from Ryan Carney, a doctoral student at Brown University.

Working with a delicate specimen of a multiplacophoran partially covered by rock, Vinther used a micro CT scan a noninvasive technology similar to medical CAT scanning to create a three-dimensional view of the fossil. With Carney's help, the CT scan yielded an animated view of the original placement of the creature's dense spines and shells, which had splayed out and decayed prior to fossilization.

The CT scan also produced a three-dimensional cast of the specimen in its reconstructed shape. Working with the cast, the animation and information on living relatives of the multiplacophorans, Horn was able to create a multicolored, textured model in clay, resin and silicone showing how the creature looked millions of years ago, when it crawled on a single, suction-like foot over shells and rocky surfaces in ancient oceans.

The model helps address a debate about how multiplacophorans (which were only discovered in the past decade) relate to chitons, another more widely known plated mollusk that lives on seashores and is commonly eaten in the Caribbean. By dating the origin of modern chitons, Vinther could demonstrate that multiplacophorans are stem group chitons.

"We can now demonstrate that multiplacophorans are distant relatives of the modern chitons, which did not evolve until later in Earth history," said Vinther. "We can also show that they evolved a number of characteristics seen in some modern chitons convergently."

The CT scan was integral to the project, allowing the scientists to see below the surface of the fossil.

"CT scanning is an extremely powerful technique for paleontologists," said Vinther, "since we can look inside fossils without destroying them."

Vinther and Horn describe the process of creating the model in a video produced by the Jackson School of Geosciences and hosted online by National Geographic at

The original fossil was discovered 10 years ago in Ohio by private collector and co-author George Kampouris, who donated it to the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History.


Contact: J.B. Bird
University of Texas at Austin

Related biology news :

1. Nanoengineers can print 3D microstructures in mere seconds
2. Researchers develop rapid method to measure carbon footprints
3. New study: Running mechanics, not metabolism, are the key to performance for elite sprinters
4. In fly DNA, the footprint of a fly virus
5. Human eye inspires clog-free ink jet printer invented by MU researcher
6. Physics confirms sprinters are performing better than ever before
7. Penn researchers improve living tissues with 3-D printed vascular networks made from sugar
8. Chemical fingerprinting tracks the travels of little brown bats
9. Tiny plants could cut costs, shrink environmental footprint
10. lobSTR algorithm rolls DNA fingerprinting into 21st century
11. From 503-million-year-old fungi to recent earthquakes: New Geology posted ahead of print
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/10/2015)... 2015 About signature verification ... to identify and verify the identity of an ... the secure and accurate method of authentication and ... individual because each individual,s signature is highly unique. ... dynamic signature of an individual is compared and ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... York , November 4, 2015 ... a new market report published by Transparency Market Research "Home ... Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", the global home ... US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market is estimated ... forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising security needs ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig Venter ... titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options ... of Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic biology ... --> --> ... has the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. It ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI), the genomics-based, technology-driven ... Genomics, Inc., a leading genome informatics company offering highly ... The San Diego -based company has ... and Co-founder, Ashley Van Zeeland , Ph.D., who is ... of the deal were not disclosed. ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... -- Aytu BioScience, Inc. (OTCQB: AYTU), a commercial-stage specialty healthcare ... at two upcoming investor conferences. Aytu is scheduled to ... to be held December 3, 2015, and at LD ... 2 nd & 3 rd , 2015 in ... via webcast. Josh Disbrow , Chief Executive ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Nov. 30, 2015  Northwest Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ: NWBO ... personalized immune therapies for solid tumor cancers, announced today ... independent director, and the Company welcomes Neil Woodford,s ... a recent anonymous internet report on NW Bio.  The ... Linda Powers stated, "We agree with Mr. ...
(Date:11/28/2015)... ... November 28, 2015 , ... • Jeon Jin Bio Corp, a ... rodent control solutions , Bird Free, an ... across all sensory modalities including visual, smell, taste and touch, enabling safe, effective avian ...
Breaking Biology Technology: