News | April 09, 2015

CT Scans Offer New Insights into Extinct Marine Creatures

German research uses CT to reveal ammonites were probably able to swim

April 9, 2015 — Using state-of-the-art imaging techniques, paleontologists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have been examining extinct marine creatures. Quantitative analyses provide new evidence that ammonites were able to swim using their shell - very much like the recent nautilus. For the purpose of the study, the researchers, together with partners from the industry, developed an evaluation process for high-resolution computed tomography (CT) images. The science magazine "RUBIN" reports about the results.

Ammonites had a visceral mass that was protected by a helical shell with several chambers. One theory postulates that the creatures lived at the bottom of the sea. Another claims that they were able to swim by using their shell with its gas-filled chambers to compensate for the weight of their shell and soft body, rendering them neutrally buoyant. Together with his team, RUB researcher René Hoffmann, Ph.D., investigated how much buoyancy an ammonite shell could generate. First, the palaeontologists from Bochum developed a reliable evaluation technique for their CT images, using the nautilus shells as a test object. Their method now enables them to precisely ascertain the volumes of the examined shells and to calculate their weight, as well as the volumes of the gas-filled chambers. The data thus gathered indicate the buoyancy generated by the shell. In order to clarify if the ammonites were able to swim, the researchers need to know if their shell provides sufficient buoyancy to compensate the weight of the visceral mass and the shell. They estimated the latter, basing it on observations of the nautilus animal.

For the CT analysis, Hoffmann needed hollow fossilized ammonites. In order to find them, he traveled to Russia and Japan, among other countries. Together with Ph.D. student Robert Lemanis, he analyzed a 0.98-millimeter-large ammonite hatchling. The result: Three to five gas-filled shell chambers would have been sufficient to enable the ammonites to swim freely in the water directly after hatching. The examined shell had 11 chambers. How many of them existed in the moment of hatching, however, cannot be ascertained — the larger the mollusks became, the more chambers they created. Still, the RUB analyses showed that the hatchling would not have been condemned to dwelling at the bottom, even if only one chamber had been filled with gas; using active swimming motions, the young ammonite would have been able to move around freely in water and stop itself from sinking.

For more information: www.rubin.rub.de/en

Related Content

New Study Evaluates Head CT Examinations and Patient Complexity
News | Neuro Imaging | May 17, 2019
Computed tomography (CT) of the head uses special X-ray equipment to help assess head injuries, dizziness and other...
FDA Clears Aidoc's AI Solution for Flagging Pulmonary Embolism
Technology | Artificial Intelligence | May 15, 2019
Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions provider Aidoc has been granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)...
Gorilla Undergoes Follow-up CT Scan at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo

Gigi, a western lowland gorilla at Fanklin Park Zoo (Boston), recently underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan as part of efforts to identify the cause of ongoing health issues in recent months. Image courtesy of Zoo New England

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | May 06, 2019
Gigi, a western lowland gorilla, was recently put under anesthesia at Franklin Park Zoo (Boston) so the zoo’s...
Aidoc Raises $27 Million in Series B Funding
News | Artificial Intelligence | May 02, 2019
Radiology artificial intelligence (AI) solutions provider Aidoc announced a $27 million investment, bringing its total...
Canon Medical Installs First CT Scanner With AI in Belgium
News | Computed Tomography (CT) | May 02, 2019
May 2, 2019 — Canon Medical has installed the Aquilion One Genesis, one of the first...
Physicians, Patients Talking Less About Lung Cancer Screening
News | Lung Cancer | April 29, 2019
Smoking rates are down nationally, but so are discussions among physicians and smokers about lung cancer screening,...
Video Plus Brochure Helps Patients Make Lung Cancer Scan Decision

Image courtesy of the American Thoracic Society

News | Lung Cancer | April 19, 2019
A short video describing the potential benefits and risks of low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening for lung...
FDA Clears GE's Deep Learning Image Reconstruction Engine
Technology | Computed Tomography (CT) | April 19, 2019
GE Healthcare has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of its Deep Learning Image...
Videos | RSNA | April 03, 2019
ITN Editor Dave Fornell takes a tour of some of the most interesting new medical imaging technologies displa