The fossil record can tell us a lot about the species that came before us; how they lived, who their ancestors were, and what their time on this planet may have looked like. But what can we learn when we take an even closer look?
We’re all familiar with the giant skeletons on display in museums across the world, and while we can learn a lot from them, there’s a lot more information waiting to be discovered inside of those bones.
This is an image from inside the fossilized frill of a triceratops. After painstaking hours of slicing the bone to the thickness of a human hair, and placing it under a high powered microscope we not only get this stunning, up-close picture of a fossil but with the right training, scientists are able to “read” these images to learn so much more about the animal.
The Museum of the Rockies Paleohistology Lab is one of the few places in the world where research like this is performed. Their collection of over 2,200 thin-sliced slides of fossil specimens gives paleontologists the opportunity to study dinosaur physiology and behavior at a microscopic level.
One of our favorite YouTube channels, PBS Eons, recently ventured to the Paleohistology Lab at the Museum of the Rockies to interview one of their lead researchers and learn what, exactly, we can learn from these beautiful specimens.
Beyond a beautiful picture of a fossil!
Paleohistology has so many insights to offer! One of the great questions in paleontology is whether or not fossils that look similar to each other come from entirely different species or are just from the different stages in a species’ development. Studies (like the one from the image at the top of the article) are using paleohistology to help us better understand these kinds of complexities in the fossil record.
An even closer look…
Bones aren’t the only places the fossil record is helping us uncover what the prehistoric past looked like. Scientists are also looking at the impressions and fossilized remains of dinosaur feathers at a microscopic level to determine how colorful these creatures were!
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
If you like dinosaurs as much as we do, we recommend you check out our full collection of dinosaur-related articles!