Thursday, 3 April 2008

Prehistoric bugs in amber

How can you examine tiny and microscopic insects and plants trapped in ancient, opaque amber?

"The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, produces an intense, high-energy light that can pierce just about any material, revealing its inner structure.

Tafforeau and colleague Malvina Lak have put kilos of opaque amber chunks in the way of this beam and have found a treasure trove of ancient organisms.
From more than 600 blocks, they have identified nearly 360 fossil animals. Wasps, flies, ants - even spiders. There are also small fragments of plant material. All of it caught up in the sticky goo of some prehistoric tree and then locked away until modern science provided the key."

Having scanned the amber from at least 1,000 angles, a 3-D scale model can then be produced on the 3-D printer.

Amazing! Read the whole story here.

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