Next week Professor David Siveter from the University of Leicester Department of Geology, along with colleagues from Oxford and Bristol, will be exhibiting their cutting edge research at the Royal Society's annual Summer Science Exhibition in London from July 3-5.
Their exhibit, entitled 'Virtual Fossils: Silurian Sensations Released from the Rock', depicts the first ever detailed computerised 3-D images of soft-bodied fossils. These are 425 million years old from the Silurian rocks in Herefordshire.
Open to the public and free to enter, the Summer Science Exhibition is a once-a-year opportunity not only to see the latest in cutting-edge science from the UK and abroad but also talk to the scientists about their work and how it might improve our lives in the future.
Professor Siveter said: "425 million years ago, Herefordshire was covered by a moderately deep sea containing sunken reefs which housed a wide variety of marine life. At some point, volcanic ash rained down onto the sea floor, creating an exceptionally rare and rich fossil archive as many tiny soft-bodied organisms, such as molluscs, were engulfed and preserved in the ash, rather than either decomposing or being squashed flat in the sediment, which more usually happens.
"The new technique which has been developed involves micro-grinding of the fossils combined with computer regeneration techniques, which project the 4cm fossil in 3-D imagery and show its anatomy in unprecedented detail, including its many plates and spines."
Professor Siveter developed the technique with his twin brother Dr Derek Siveter and Dr Mark Sutton from University of Oxford and Professor Derek Briggs from University of Bristol.
The detail in which the mollusc has been rendered will assist scientists as they build up a more complete record of the diversity and ecology of life hundreds of millions of years ago, which will now for the first time be fleshed out by high fidelity models of the distant ancestors of today's snails, mussels and octopi.
Executive Secretary of the Royal Society, Stephen Cox said: "This year's Summer Science Exhibition really does have the very best of science on show and is a highlight of the UK's science calendar, attracting thousands of people to every year. The scientists went through a rigorous selection process and have done extremely well to be one of only 23 selected."
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. A full list of exhibitors at this year's Summer Science Exhibition is available upon request from the Royal Society's press office. Photographs of some exhibits are also available upon request.
2. The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit, not by field. The Society's objectives are to:
For further information on the Royal Society or the exhibition contact Liz Brodie/Bob Ward/Lize King, Press and Public Relations, The Royal Society, London (020 7451 2568/2516/2508, email email@example.com).
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