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High resolution CT scanning to shed new light on human evolution

High resolution CT scanning to shed new light on human evolution

Dr Kristian Carlson, Senior Researcher in the Wits Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI), said, "The higher resolution surface detail yielded by our Nikon Metrology equipment enabled better, more precise analysis of the partial cranium and curved surfaces of the endocast than had previously been possible.

Now the Palaeosciences Centre of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, is taking another, more in-depth look at the partial cranium and endocast using a Nikon Metrology microfocus X-ray CT (micro-CT) scanner. The idea is to see if the previous research conclusions can be corroborated using the much greater special resolution, typically 10 to 100 times that of a medical CT scanner. There are few such non-destructive, radiographic 3D imaging facilities in the world available to institutes studying prehistoric life.

Dr Kristian Carlson, Senior Researcher in the Wits Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI), said, "The higher resolution surface detail yielded by our Nikon Metrology equipment enabled better, more precise analysis of the partial cranium and curved surfaces of the endocast than had previously been possible.
Prof Ralph Holloway of Columbia University, Prof Douglas Broadfield of Florida Atlantic University and I have written a paper on the subject that is currently undergoing peer review, which we hope will be published later in the year."


The Taung Child specimen was scanned in the Nikon Metrology XTH 225/320 LC dual source micro-CT system, which uses the manufacturer's Inspect-X software for controlling the machine and for image reconstruction.

For maximum operational flexibility, the machine is equipped with both rotating and static reflection 225 kV targets and a more powerful 320 kV static target to enable denser fossil and geological samples to be penetrated. Visualisation and analysis software packages used are VG Studio Max from Volume Graphics and Avizo Standard and Avizo Fire from FEI Visualization Sciences Group.

The flexibility of being able to equip the system with different sources together with the presence of a very experienced local service and support team were two of the main reasons that the research centre opted for Nikon Metrology as a supplier.

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