12 September 2014 High-resolution x-ray computed tomography to understand ruminant phylogeny
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High-resolution X-ray computed tomography has become a vital technique to study fossils down to the true micrometer level. Paleontological research requires the non-destructive analysis of internal structures of fossil specimens. We show how X-ray computed tomography enables us to visualize the inner ear of extinct and extant ruminants without skull destruction. The inner ear, a sensory organ for hearing and balance has a rather complex three-dimensional morphology and thus provides relevant phylogenetical information what has been to date essentially shown in primates. We made visible the inner ears of a set of living and fossil ruminants using the phoenix x-ray nanotom®m (GE Sensing and Inspection Technologies GmbH). Because of the high absorbing objects a tungsten target was used and the experiments were performed with maximum accelerating voltage of 180 kV and a beam current of 30 μA. Possible stem ruminants of the living families are known in the fossil record but extreme morphological convergences in external structures such as teeth is a strong limitation to our understanding of the evolutionary history of this economically important group of animals. We thus investigate the inner ear to assess its phylogenetical potential for ruminants and our first results show strong family-level morphological differences.
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Loic Costeur, Loic Costeur, Georg Schulz, Georg Schulz, Bert Müller, Bert Müller, "High-resolution x-ray computed tomography to understand ruminant phylogeny", Proc. SPIE 9212, Developments in X-Ray Tomography IX, 921216 (12 September 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2060841; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2060841

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