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3-D Silurian Animals - Palaeontology Seminar

Posted by C Lowry on Jun 8, 2011 11:05:48 AM

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.
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