Dr. Mark Sutton, Department of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Imperial College
Thursday 9th June, Neil Chalmers Seminar Room, DC2, 16:00
The Herefordshire (Wenlock, Silurian, ~425Ma) Konservat-Lagerstätte in England yields remarkable, three-dimensional, non-biomineralized fossils in carbonate concretions hosted in a volcaniclastic deposit. The deposit, apparently taphonomically unique, and has yielded several thousand specimens of assorted invertebrates including echinoderms, brachiopods, molluscs, and especially arthropods, all preserving soft-tissues in high-fidelity detail.
Specimens cannot be extracted physically or imaged using conventional micro-CT techniques; instead they are reconstructed as virtual fossils using a physical-optical tomography technique based on high-resolution serial grinding. Reconstruction work has been performed using custom software (SPIERS), now freely available to the palaeontological community, and models can be distributed with a new standardised interchange format for virtual specimens (VAXML).
Palaeobiological analysis of the Lagerstätte has now been in progress for over ten years, and too many taxa have been described for a full summary here. Recent finds detailed in this talk include the basal crustacean Tanazios, the marrellomorph Xylokorys, several ostracods, the cryptic brachiopod-like fossil Drakozoon, and several (as yet unnamed) basal arthropods, including an elongate form which may lie immediately outside the arthropod crown-group.
For further information on location see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html