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Imaging technology reveals intricate details of 49-million-year-old spider
Date:5/18/2011

this, an international team of experts in the fields of fossils and living spiders, and in modern techniques of computer analysis decided to re-study Georg Berendt's original specimen and determine once and for all what it really was.

"The results were surprising," said Dr Penney. "Computed tomography produced 3D images and movies of astounding quality, which allowed us to compare the finest details of the amber fossil with similar-looking living spiders.

"We were able to show that the fossil is unquestionably a Huntsman spider and belongs to a genus called Eusparassus, which lives in the tropics and also arid regions of southern Europe today, but evidently lived in central Europe 50 million years ago.

"The research is particularly exciting because our results show that this method works and that other scientifically important specimens in historical pieces of darkened amber can be investigated and compared to their living relatives in the same way."

Professor Philip Withers, who established the Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility a unique suite of 3D X-ray imagers covering scales from a meter to 50nm within Manchester's School of Materials, added: "Normally such fossils are really hard to detect because the contrast against the amber is low but with phase contrast imaging the spiders really jump out at you in 3D. Usually you have to go to a synchrotron X-ray facility to get good phase contrast, but we can get excellent phase contrast in the lab. This is really exciting because it opens up the embedded fossil archive not just in ambers."


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Contact: Aeron Haworth
aeron.haworth@manchester.ac.uk
44-161-275-8383
University of Manchester
Source:Eurekalert  

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