We’ve all seen and marveled at them: perfect fossils of gargantuan dinosaurs or other exotic creatures from the ancient world. But the truth is, sometimes there’s more than meets the eye. From signs of soft tissue and the remains of million-year-old meals, to delicate fossilized anatomy lost in the surrounding rock, to paint and plaster artfully applied by human preparators – many fossils have scientifically important features that are hiding in plain sight.
A research associate at The University of Texas at Austin is pioneering a new method for bringing these overlooked treasures into vivid detail. Called progressive photonics, the technique involves shooting photos of specimens under a range of lighting environments. The goal of the technique is to broaden the kind of information that can be extracted from fossils by diversifying and improving photo documentation.
The results can be stunning.