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Asia Fossils

11 April 2017: Reconstructing Feathered Dinosaurs From Fossils. Using New Laser Imaging Technology

Fossilized dinosaur remains usually only preserve bone shapes. However, paleontologists at the University of Hong Kong have reconstructed a detailed feathered dinosaur’s body outline through high definition soft tissue imaging. Laser-stimulated flourescence (LSF), a revolutionary new technology, uses high power lasers to make unseen soft tissue preserved along with the bones glow. The laser makes the few remaining skin atoms stand out within the rock matrix, which helps show the actual shape of the dinosaur.

Over 200 specimens of the feathered bird-like dinosaur Anchiornis were were examined, but only 12 showed evidence preservation of soft tissue outlines. Their reconstruction showed contours on the wings and legs, including some well-preserved outlines of foot scales – all of which increases scientific understanding of the origin of birds. Since Anchiornis lived in the late Jurassic period about 160 million years ago, around the time birds first appeared, the new reconstructions help paleontologists understand how dinosaurs evolved to eventually achieve flight. The University of Hong Kong team is currently planning trips worldwide to scan other fossil specimens.

The researchers work was published in Nature Communications this month.

 Fossilized Anchiornis Wing

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