MAR 17, 2017 03:58 AM PDT

Lasers Provide Accurate Fossil Scans to Better Understand Dinosaurs

While we’ve long thought of dinosaurs as scaly reptile-like creatures, increasing amounts of evidence now point to the idea that dinosaurs were bird-like in their days of reigning supreme on Earth.

A study recently published in the journal Nature Communications discusses the results of a detailed analysis of several Anchoirnis fossil remains. This ancient creature, which sported four total wings, a thin tail, and many feathers, is estimated to have existed sometime during the late Jurassic era.

Meet the most accurate rendition of the incredibly bird-like Anchoirnis yet.

Image Credit: Julius T. Csotonyi

Using high-powered laser scanning techniques, known as Laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF), scientists unraveled more details about the creature than expected.

This technique was not only harmless to the delicate fossil speciments, but it also enabled scientists to get a better view of the soft interconnecting tissues in between bones in ways that typical white or ultraviolet light scans cannot reveal, and the results paint a picture of bird-like body parts that continue to support the modern hypothesis. Admittedly, soft tissue doesn’t always withstand the test of time, so the researchers got lucky with this fossil specimen.

Among the many things they discovered during the analysis is evidence for drumstick-style legs and a slender tail, as well as a footpad that resembles those from a lot of today’s modern birds. These, combined with a few other traits allowed scientists to come up with the illustration above, which most likely depicts the creature more accurately than any illustrations to date.

Anchoirnis may have used its four wings for gliding; many of the body’s formations that were found in this study would have been well-adapted for short-term flying or gliding.

The study is important not only because it sheds light on a dinosaur species that existed millions of years ago, but also because it shows that LSF technology works well for this kind of fossil research.

The authors go on to explain that there are a bevy of dinosaur fossils out there that could do with additional examinations to learn more about their bodily structure and that LSF could help answer some of the ongoing questions for various dinosaur species.

“In our opinion, it (LSF) should be in the top tray of any paleontologist’s toolbox, because it can so easily expand the anatomical information available from a fossil without damaging it,” said the University of Hong Kong's Michael Pitmann, a co-author of the study.

Importantly, the theory that many dinosaurs were more similar to today's modern birds than originally thought seems to be very consistent throughout all of modern research. Some studies have even went as far as to suggest that they even sounded just like today's larger birds as well.

Source: National Geographic

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 28, 2018
Videos
JUN 28, 2018
Walk the Dog, It's Good for You
Anyone who owns a dog knows that rain or shine, snow or fair weather, the dog needs to be walked or they’re going to mess up the house. As it happens...
JUL 07, 2018
Videos
JUL 07, 2018
Can Sending Plants to Space Reveal a Cancer Treatment?
When plants are grown in a totally different environment, it may stimulate new effects....
JUL 19, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUL 19, 2018
Tracking Tick-Borne Disease
Every summer the concern about tick-borne diseases runs high. Lyme disease, which is carried by ticks, is quickly becoming a major public health concern. T...
SEP 02, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 02, 2018
Insights From the Opium Poppy Genome
By sequencing the opium poppy's DNA, scientists have revealed important details about how it makes its medicine....
SEP 10, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 10, 2018
The WWF is Outfitting Tanzanian Elephants with Satellite-Trackable Collars
Animal poachers frequently target elephants because their ivory tusks can rake in a significant profit on the black market. But contemporary technological ...
SEP 12, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 12, 2018
Global Turtle Decline Adversely Impacts the Surrounding Ecosystem
The Earth is home to a wide assortment of turtle species, but many populations continue to decline despite rigorous conservation efforts that are intended...
Loading Comments...