Is this our chance to recreate evolution?

I’m sure you all learnt about fossils when you were in primary school. The thought of fossils probably sparks images in your head of dinosaurs or little rocks with shapes of animals on them, right?

The truth is, there’s a lot more to fossils than just discovering rocks with pictures in them. Fossils are magically rare occurrences; and as a community it is vital for each and every one of us to recognize the importance of fossils and to not undermine their value.

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Use of surface microscopy shows muscle attachment points in alligator (A), rabbit (B), turkey (C) and tyrannosaur (D). http://www.tandfonline.com.virtual.anu.edu.au/doi/figure/10.1080/08912963.2015.1049163

This is why the emergence of a new technology known as surface microscopy is a topic worth talking about.

This new technology- surface microscopy, can inspect fossils more precisely and accurately than ever before. It has shown to be vastly superior to any previous method of investigating fossils.

But why do we need to be able to study fossils more precisely?

The ability to inspect fossils so precisely and closely is essential when looking at what extinct animals were really like. It also provides a greater insight on how animals evolved, and even how we involved ourselves.

So how does the technology do this? 

Surface microscopy has shown to find muscle attachment sites that previously have not been identified. In fact, with this technology, it was shown that up to 40% of muscle attachment sites have previously been unidentified in the organisms studied. The types of organisms studied were a variety of reptiles, birds and mammals.

This technology has shown to succeed in identifying these aspects of fossils successfully both in modern and ancient vertebrates. Meaning, it is not only useful for future fossils but also for paleontologists to discover new information on old fossils, information that was previously unknown.

 

This means we can now more accurately depict different organisms and the evolution of these organisms, the way we interpret how extinct animals looked like, what they ate and how they acted can now be more accurate than ever.

For example, it could help understand more what dinosaurs were like in the past more precisely than ever. It could even help us understand human evolution more clearly as now fossils can be investigated so in depth in order to understand where the placement of muscles was and hence how their bodies looked and what they were capable of.

Who knows what kind this insight will provide us with, this research has opened the window for such a broad scope of research for palaeontologists and perhaps has the ability to change the way we study evolution forever.

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