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When a 520 million-year-old Chengjiang fossil meets a modern micro-CT – a case study

Sci Rep 5: 12802. doi:10.1038/srep12802.

Authors/Editors: Liu Y
Scholtz G
Hou X
Publication Date: 2015
Type of Publication: Journal Articles 2010 - 2019


The 520 million-year-old Chengjiang biota of China (UNESCO World Heritage) presents the earliest known evidence of the so-called Cambrian Explosion. Studies, however, have mainly been limited to the information exposed on the surface of the slabs. Thus far, structures preserved inside the slabs were accessed by careful removal of the matrix, in many cases with the unfortunate sacrifice of some “less important” structures, which destroys elements of exceptionally preserved specimens. Here, we show for the first time that microtomography (micro-CT) can reveal structures situated inside a Chengjiang fossil slab without causing any damage. In the present study a trilobitomorph arthropod (Xandarella spectaculum) can be reliably identified only with the application of micro-CT. We propose that this technique is an important tool for studying three-dimensionally preserved Chengjiang fossils and, most likely, also those from other biota with a comparable type of preservation, specifically similar iron concentrations.

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