SCIENCE PUB – “Jurassic Park for Real! Reconstructing fossil insects and dinosaurs with the latest technology”
Our wildly popular Science Pub Series has returned for a 10th incredible season. Enjoy lectures on scientific topics of general interest in our Arizona Room over fine craft beer and award-winning pub cuisine. The room opens at 5:00 PM. Avoid disappointment and come down early for dinner and a pint before the presentation which begins at 7:00 PM. This month’s lecture will be presented by Ryan McKellar from the University of Regina Biology Department and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Over the last decade, our ability to peer inside fossils and extract new details has expanded dramatically. Researchers in Saskatchewan now routinely use CT scans, spectroscopy, and 3D scanning to study fossils and share their findings with the public. Local resources like the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron allow us to complete very high-resolution CT scans of both insects in amber and the microstructure of vertebrate bones. The 3D models that are produced from these scans can then be combined with X-ray or infrared spectroscopy to examine which tissues are preserved, and what traces of original chemistry persist after millions of years. Whole-body 3D models have been used to study and describe many new species of fossil insects and a turtle—creating fossil studies with a level of detail that rivals or exceeds work on their modern counterparts. Detailed scans of skeletal fragments and microstructure within fossil bones have helped to shape our search for soft tissue preservation in dinosaurs, and study fragments of ancient birds preserved within amber. When these techniques are combined with 3D scanning and printing, it has allowed museums to present fossil content more rapidly and with much greater detail than ever before. It is an exciting time to be working as a palaeontologist in Saskatchewan!