3-D technology looks into the distant past

phys.org | 3/13/2014 | Staff
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Researchers from the University of Tübingen and their colleagues from Switzerland have studied hundreds of fossil carp teeth for the first time using 3-D technologies. In 4 million-year old lake sediments from what is now the Armenian highlands, they found evidence of an astonishing variety of carp. Thanks to "virtual palaeontology," the researchers identified four closely-related species of Mesopotamian barb fish, so-called scrapers. They believe that these species lived together in a giant system of lakes and formed a "species flock:" a group of closely related species inhabiting the same biotope. It is the first time that a species flock of freshwater fish has been found in western Asia. Today, these carp species live in separate regions. Findings such as this can help us to understand evolutionary developments and the origins of species diversity.

The project was conducted by Anna Ayvazyan and Professor Madelaine Böhme of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP) at the University of Tübingen, in cooperation with Dr. Davit Vasilyan of the Jurassica Museum in Porrentruy (Switzerland). The results of their study have been published in the latest PLoS ONE.

Scrapers - Capoeta - Family - Carp - Diet

The scrapers (genus Capoeta) are an ecologically specialized family of carp. They have a specialized diet, feeding only on algae, which they scrape off stones. They live in rivers which flow through arid landscapes. Today, more than 30 species of scarpers are known. Until now, this variety of species was hard to explain; before the advent of 3-D analysis, it was impossible to identify fossil carp species.

Three-dimensional models were created with the help of computer tomography; the researchers were then able to investigate the structure and shape of the fossil carp teeth. The 3-D technology also provides high-resolution details of the tooth structures of living species. "This method enables us to identify fossil species for the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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