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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Archaeopteryx, a bird or a dinosaur?

This question has not been answered: whether Archaeopteryx was a bird or a dinosaur? Or something in between? Ancient hunter creatures have long fascinated the paleontologists, even since the originator of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin. And only 12 fossils of this kind has ever been found.
Could Archaeopteryx really fly? (Picture from: http://bbc.in/Smd1EF)
More recently, precious Archaeopteryx fossils was put under the spotlight of giant X-ray machine, to find what is buried beneath the surface of the fossilized bones. By using the latest techniques of "camera obscura" - which inspired the maestro Leonardo da Vinci - the scientists capture some of the most vivid images of Archaeopteryx.

For the first time, experts can see the full frame in three dimensions. Not only surface, but also including bones and feathers hidden. They hope to discover how the "first true bird" feathered dinosaurs evolved into flying creatures. Not only that, this study is also expected to solve puzzles among palaeontologists for 150 years. Could Archaeopteryx fly?

Recent tests carried out at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, at the foot of the Alps in the territory of France.
The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, at the foot of the Alps in the territory of France. (Picture from: http://bbc.in/Smd1EF)
In the past, there will be quite a large fossil scanned in a synchrotron light source - the type of particle accelerator that produces high-energy X-rays. Now, scientists at the ESRF experiment with new tricks smart, inspired by the idea of ​​a very ancient and simple: a pinhole camera.

The basic concept has emerged since 400 BC. However, the new Leonardo da Vinci who made the first detailed images of the camera obscura in his sketch book in 1485, the Codex Atlanticus. Light entering through a small hole is enlarged and projected onto a screen wall. The camera allows the artist Leonardo in the tent, to accurately track and panoramic painting.

In a synchrotron, a pinhole system allows large fossils - which are too big to be rotated and scanned through conventional techniques - fully captured by the X-rays are very thin. From there it will produce 3-dimensional images.

"This is equivalent to the beam thickness of a human hair., But very powerful. If you stand in front of you will die," said Dr. Paul Tafforeau, a palaeontologist at the ESRF, as quoted by the BBC on Thursday, May 22, 2014.

If the pinhole trick works well on all the dinosaur fossils, such as the initial test in Archaeopteryx, it could open up new avenues in the study of fossils. Large dinosaur skeleton most famous in the world and can be seen in a new light.

Archaeopteryx fossils caused quite a stir when first discovered in 1861, just two years after Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species. With claws and teeth of dinosaurs, but it has feathers like a bird, the creature was immediately regarded as a transitional form - evidence of the truth of Darwin's theory.

Considered as the 'first true bird', discovery shocked the scientific community. But, a few years ago, the ancestors of birds were more primitive excavated in Liaoning, China. However, the mystery of Archaeopteryx have not fully faded. There are still unanswered mysteries: Could this animal fly?

Around 150 million years ago, Archaeopteryx lived in the islands in a shallow tropical sea, lush vegetation - which is now the territory of Germany. "We want to know how Archaeopteryx lived," says Martin Roeper, a museum curator Solnhofen, who kept one of the ancient specimens. "Is it ran a small dinosaur, climb trees, or fly?

Was the most important question is, can it fly?" So what is the answer? Using the latest techniques, the answer is closer. Generated new microscopic anatomical details of scanning.

Each one of the 12 fossils have arrived at the ESRF. "What is truly remarkable is that more apparent feathers by new scanning technique is compared by looking at the original specimen," said Paul Tafforeau. Not to mention other anatomy beneath the surface.

"You can see a lot of details are hidden in the rock. Hereby we can better understand what exactly it is Archaeopteryx." Finally, not only scientists who can benefit. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | BBC]
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