Computational micropaleontology: An application of the up-to-date three-dimensional imaging for planktonic foraminifera research

Osamu Sasaki, Tomohiro Iwashita, Katsunori Kimoto, Harumasa Kano, Tatsuyuki Kihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The planktonic foraminifera are distributed across the world's oceans, of which the shells are preserved in the ocean sediments, forming one of the most complete fossil records on earth. The record is used to date sedimentary rocks and study evolutionary processes, and is one of the most important archives of the past ocean condition. The appearing micron resolution X-ray CT (MXCT) can bring new information into the micropaleontology by the innovating data acquisition, visualization, measuring, morphometry, modeling and data shearing of foraminifera specimens. Anthropogenic C02 changes the carbonate chemistry and the pH of the surface ocean. The ecological effects of the change are largely unknown and need to be quantified. The quantitative CT method with MXCT has become possible to measure the mineral density and visualize the density distribution in the micron-scale shell of foraminifera. The application to the living and fossil foraminifera might provide novel information about the ocean acidification ongoing in the modern ocean and occurred in the past one. The advent of molecular biological techniques has led to the discovery of previously unrecognized genetic diversity of the modern species recognized based upon the shell morphology. However, until recently the best information on shell shape was only obtained through SEM images, giving limited measuring accuracy of 3D shell shape. The reverse technology with MXCT has upgraded the morphometry of this group by shifting the data from SEM images to CT data. The famous models made by 19th Century paleontologist d'Orbigny shows clearly that it has been difficult to shear the morphological information of specimens because of its micron size. Instead of such handcrafted models, the Internet delivery of the virtual model generated from MXCT images has become possible to shear the high-precise morphological data of taxonomic type specimen. The applications here illustrate the possibilities of computational micropaleontology, which has established in a new interdisciplinary field between the state-of-the-art three-dimensional imaging technology and the biogeoscience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages10
JournalFossils
Volume99
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 1

Keywords

  • Computational micropaleontology
  • Microfocus X-ray CT
  • Virtual specimen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Palaeontology

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