The dilute elemental inventory that disinct tissue types exhibit (both living and extinct organisms) can provide infromation on both the biology and physiology of Life.
Recognition of endogenous biomaterials in fossil remains has long been a goal for palaeobiology. A suite of new analytical techniqes is now provding the tools that permits such work to be undertaken on dilute biomarkers preserved in the fossil record.
It is now possible to produce highly detailed musculoskeletal models that can be used to study the locomotor style and abilties of both extant and extinct animals. The successful construction, testing and validation of the computational models using extant species indicates that it is possible to generate robust models applicable to extinct species, such as dinosaurs.
X-ray microtomography (XMT) is a nondestructive evaluation technique that allows the internal structure of an object to be imaged by reconstructing the spatial distribution of the local linear X-ray absorption coefficients of the materials/phases contained within. This provides a virtual 3D representation of the internal architecture of an object from which two-dimensional (2D) cross-sectional slices can be extracted along the three orthogonal planes of an object. The 3D object can be converted into a microstructurally faithful 3D mesh suitable for Finite Element Modelling that can describe the geometry of each constituent.
A key objective for this research is to understand the processes that lead to soft-tissue preservation in the fossil record. A suite of cutting edge analytical technqies are generating big advances in the undertsanding of such exceptional preservation.
The modern technologies of GPS, satellite remote sensing, digital photogrammetry, videogrammetry and LiDAR high definition surveying are providing revolutionary approaches to geological outcrop, palaeontological and geoconservation research.
The tracks of both extant and extinct vertebrates potentially offer unique sources of information, providing insight to past environments, gait, posture, locomotion and behavior. The Manchester appraoch applies both physical soils testing and the computational modelling of tracks to provide an undertstanding of the formation, preservation and interpretation of vertebrate tracks.
The Appliaed Palaeontology Research Group has several active field projects around the globe, yielding important data and samples for the study of ancient life.