Tuesday, May 11, 2010

X-rays reveal chemical link between birds and dinosaurs

An over 150 million year old fossil previously thought to only contain fossilized bone and rock holds many tips to the creatures original chemistry. Using an x-ray, researchers can now see into the fossil of the Archaeopteryx, a half dinosaur/half bird species. The first specimen was discovered over one hundred and fifty years ago, which has since been a huge part of the theory of evolution. The fossil has gone under extensive visual analysis, but nothing was known about the chemical construct of the species before the x-ray scan. This intense x-ray scan was able to find minuscule parts of chemical elements of the Archaeopteryx, revealing that these were actual parts of the animal, not just chemicals from the rocks surrounding the fossil. The scans have found that parts of the feathers of the creature were not just impressions, but actual fossilized feathers. This discovery has opened up new ways to study fossils, looking for chemical elements of the organism. However, the bones and fossils that have not been moved from the surrounding rocks and soil, because comparisons of chemicals within the organism and the surrounding rocks need to be made to assess what exact is in both.


Our advances in technology and how we can use it to find out more and more about prehistoric objects and specimens is amazing. This is how telephone was invented, how the sandwich was invented, by trying out things to see what will be the outcome. If the group of scientists hadn't thought of x-raying the fossil, they would know nothing of what they do now. If chemicals can be found from this species, what about others? Soon we'll be able to completely map out the look and anatomy of long-extinct organisms.

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