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Laser-simulated fluorescence shows new details of fossils and possible fakes

Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Thomas G. Kaye , Amanda R. Falk, Michael Pittman, Paul C. Sereno,
Larry D. Martin, David A. Burnham, Enpu Gong, Xing Xu & Yinan Wang
Laser-Stimulated Fluorescence in Paleontology.
PLoS ONE 10(5): e0125923.

Fluorescence using ultraviolet (UV) light has seen increased use as a
tool in paleontology over the last decade. Laser-stimulated
fluorescence (LSF) is a next generation technique that is emerging as
a way to fluoresce paleontological specimens that remain dark under
typical UV. A laser’s ability to concentrate very high flux rates both
at the macroscopic and microscopic levels results in specimens
fluorescing in ways a standard UV bulb cannot induce. Presented here
are five paleontological case histories that illustrate the technique
across a broad range of specimens and scales. Novel uses such as
back-lighting opaque specimens to reveal detail and detection of
specimens completely obscured by matrix are highlighted in these
examples. The recent cost reductions in medium-power short wavelength
lasers and use of standard photographic filters has now made this
technique widely accessible to researchers. This technology has the
potential to automate multiple aspects of paleontology, including
preparation and sorting of microfossils. This represents a highly
cost-effective way to address paleontology's preparatory bottleneck.


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