Blacklights help spot preserved dinosaur feathers


Share post:

Helmut Tischlinger is the man shaping what your children will think dinosaurs looked like. Most of you probably know that the illustrations of dinosaurs we grew up with were created through a process that includes as much speculation as science.

microraptor_UVFossils, obviously, couldn’t tell us what color T. Rex was, or whether the skin of a velociraptor felt like a lizard’s—as is popularly portrayed.

Tischlinger is at the forefront of efforts to improve our understanding of what dinosaurs looked like on the outside — and inside — using UV light to pick out the ephemeral remains of soft tissues.

His photos — created using hand-made lens filters — are regarded as some of the best work out there.

This technique is a big part of why scientists now draw creatures like the microraptor with feathers, instead of leathery skin or scales.

That’s one of Tischlinger’s photos of a microraptor fossil at the top of this page. The gray arrows point to feathers that show up under a blacklight.

The Discovery Channel has a new, short video that really shows off the massive difference between what the human eye can see by looking at fossil under natural light, compared to what is visible when you turn on the UV. It’s a little mind-blowing.

There’s lots being written about this technique, and Helmut Tischlinger, especially early in 2010, when he published a paper on that microraptor. A couple of things you might want to check out:

Author: Maggie Koerth-Baker | Source: Boing Boing [January 19, 2011]



Related articles

Genes may travel from plant to plant to fuel evolution

Evolutionary biologists at Brown University and the University of Sheffield have documented for the first time that plants...

Ancient graffiti sheds light on daily life

As “primitive” as mankind, as ancient as writing, competitive, full with comments of sexual discrimination and nature in...

Scientists call for global action on coral reefs

Urgent cuts in carbon emissions are needed if Caribbean coral reefs are to survive past the end of...

Remnants of 200-metre Roman bridge discovered

The remnants of what is likely to be a 200-meter Roman bridge that crossed the River Isonzo in...

Japanese archaeologists find pottery with demon’s face

A team of Japanese archaeologists has found a piece of pottery painted with the face of a demon...

Near-Death Experience is ‘all in the mind’

Near-death experiences are simply "manifestations of normal brain functions gone awry", researchers say.  A vision of a light at...

Revealing the face of Tudor Dublin

In July 2014 archaeologists from Rubicon Heritage, monitoring Luas Cross City Utilities Works for GMC Ltd. on behalf...

Hellenistic towers of Perge being restored

Conservation, restoration and integration works have been initiated for the Hellenistic towers in the ancient city of Perge...