March 19, 2009--
This ancient fly, dubbed Trichomyia lengleti
is one of a handful of bugs
added to a new online
of "digital fossils."
Paleontologists from the European Synchrotron Research Facility in
France used high-energy x-rays to peer inside 640 pieces of opaque,
fossilized amber that date to the Cretaceous
period, 145 to 65 million years ago.
The fossils were found in 2008 in from the Charentes region of
Until recently, fossils inside opaque amber were invisible to
paleontologists. But the new accelerator technology revealed
unprecedented views of 350 previously invisible insects, animals, and
plantswhich could previously only be studied from fossilized mud
(Related story: "Dino-Era
Feathers Found Encased in Amber."
Using x-rays for paleontology is a new
and important technique for seeing inside fossils
that you cant
cut or break open, said researcher Paul Tafforeau.
"When we are dealing with fossils we have to study them, but we also
have to preserve them."
Image courtesy Paul Tafforeau/European Synchrotron Research Facility