Paleontologists at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, used state-of-the-art micro-CT scanning and 3D printing technology to look inside a rare 100 million-year-old opalized dinosaur fossil, according to Cosmos magazine. .
In a rare find, collectors unearthed tiny opalized dinosaur fossils. They believe it could be a new species of Australian dinosaur. The fossil was discovered in the opal mining town of Lightning Ridge in the outback of New South Wales, and was recovered and rescued for scientific study in 2019.
A collaboration between the Australian Opal Center at Lightning Ridge and the Paleo Pictures documentary team led by Flinders University Associate Professor Paul Willis will see dinosaurs reconstructed from opalized fossils.
Opal is formed when silicon dioxide dissolved in water drips through the earth and reaches rock cavities. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind a deposit of silica. Sometimes there are cavities where opal forms because the creature was buried in sand or clay before it hardened into stone. Opal is formed in a mold, leaving a fossil replica of a living creature.
Fossils found at Lightning Ridge are often colorless and “worthless” (monetarily speaking) potch. However, in rare cases, fossils may consist of precious opals, and even precious black opals are very valuable. But Willis claims that all fossil specimens are “precious” to science.
His team began using the latest imaging techniques to learn more about the animals that made an impression. “We’re using the Flinders CT Scan facility in Tonsley to look inside a rock mass containing tiny dinosaur fossils,” Willis says.
Scans show that the dinosaur fossils are preserved in great detail. “Not only does the scan allow us to understand exactly what we have as a dinosaur skeleton, but by removing the surrounding rocks, the scan is invaluable to the next phase of studying this specimen.” “Before using scans on specimens like this, removal of the surrounding rock can be blind and ‘blind’ to reveal the bones,” Willis continued. Mostly. Now that I know where the rocks stop and where the bones start, I can do it with more confidence. ”
To date, approximately 20% of opalized dinosaur fossil specimens have been scanned. Once the rest has been processed, the team will work on a detailed study of the skeleton and use 3D printing to create the most complete reconstruction possible from the puzzle pieces.
Paleontologists hope the reconstruction will reveal whether this is indeed a new species of dinosaur, and by learning how the animal lived and died, they hope to try to bring “life” back to the fossil. .