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Synchrotron XRF analyses of element distribution in fossilized sauropod dinosaur bones

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 February 2012

M. Dumont
Affiliation:
Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH, Max-Planck-Straße 1, D-40237 Düsseldorf, Germany
N. Zoeger
Affiliation:
Atomic Institute of the Austrian Universities, Stadionallee 2, A-1020 Wien, Austria
C. Streli
Affiliation:
Atomic Institute of the Austrian Universities, Stadionallee 2, A-1020 Wien, Austria
P. Wobrauschek
Affiliation:
Atomic Institute of the Austrian Universities, Stadionallee 2, A-1020 Wien, Austria
G. Falkenberg
Affiliation:
Hamburger Synchrotronstrahlungslabor HASYLAB at the Deutschen Elektronen-Synchrotron, DESY, Notkestrasse 85, D-22603 Hamburg, Germany
P. M. Sander
Affiliation:
Institute of Palaeontology, University of Bonn, Nussallee, D-53115 Bonn, Germany
A. R. Pyzalla
Affiliation:
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, Glienicker Strasse 100, 14109 Berlin, Germany

Abstract

Sauropod dinosaurs were typically one magnitude larger than any other living or extinct terrestrial animal. This sheer size of the sauropod leads to scale effects in their biology and physiology that still are inadequately understood. The only remnants of the sauropods are their fossilized bones. These fossilized bones have sustained burial for some hundred million years and thus may have experienced significant diagenetic changes. These diagenetic changes often do not affect bone preservation on the histological level, but may lead to significant alterations of the bone microstructure. Here the influence of diagenesis on the microstructure of fossilized sauropod bones using femur cross section of Brachiosaurus brancai that was excavated in the Tendaguru beds in Tanzania is investigated. The element distribution in this dinosaur bone is studied by a combination of micro-X-ray-fluorescence (μ-XRF) using synchrotron radiation and energy dispersive X-ray analyses (EDX) in the scanning electron microscope. These techniques reveal quantitative values of the element concentration at a macroscopic level combined with qualitative information at high spatial resolution of the distribution of Ca, Co, Cr, V, Pb, U, Sr, Y, and As in the fossil bones. This allows a differentiation between the remnants of the original bone apatite and pore filling minerals and also a visualization of damage, e.g., cracks introduced by diagenetic processes.

Type
X-Ray Fluorescence
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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