Synchrotron imaging of Saskatchewan amber and dinosaur fossils

Saskatchewan has a rich Late Cretaceous fossil record (~66 million years ago), which provides opportunities to study both fossilized resin (amber) and dinosaur skeletons from shared habitats. Synchrotron X-rays are a powerful new tool that can be used to CT scan fossils and create 3D models of microscopic structures, and to map out the chemistry of preserved material. The proposed project will use synchrotron techniques to 3D-model insects in amber for new species descriptions, and to explore how soft tissues are preserved within these specimens. Similar techniques will be applied to dinosaur bone samples, to examine the growth layers that provide evidence of age and injuries; these scans will be combined with chemical maps to investigate traces of soft tissues and their decay products trapped within the bones. Ultimately, this will allow us to fill in gaps in the fossil record of western Canada and improve our understanding of fossil preservation.

Faculty Supervisor:

Ryan McKellar;Mauricio Barbi;David Cooper


Jerit Mitchell;Caelan Libke


Canadian Light Source Inc.



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