50-mln-year-old spider digitally brought back to life

November 14th, 2007 - 3:03 am ICT by admin  
The 53-millon-year old male spider is from the new species Cenotextricella simony, and was found preserved in amber in an area of France known as the Paris Basin.

Dr David Penney, from The School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (SEAES), University of Manchester, said the team used a technique called ‘Very High Resolution X-Ray Computed Tomography’ (VHR-CT) to ‘digitally dissect’ the tiny fossil.

He said this is the first time that the VHR-CT technique has been used to digitally dissect a fossil in amber, adding that the technique was originally developed for medical diagnostic purposes.

“This technique essentially generates full 3D reconstructions of minute fossils and permits digital dissection of the specimen to reveal the preservation of internal organs,” said Dr Penney.

“Up until recently the only place to do such scans was at The University of Texas, although they never achieved results like these. My colleagues in the department of Subatomic and Radiation Physics at Ghent University in Belgium have significantly increased the resolution of the technology, bringing some quite amazing results.

“This is definitely the way forward for the study of amber fossils,” he said.

The spider was originally discovered by a Mexican researcher who named it ‘Episinus penneyi’ in honour of his former colleague.

The study appears in the current issue of the journal Zootaxa.

The Belgian researchers involved in the study were from Ghent University. (ANI)

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