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Phase-contrast synchrotron microtomography reveals the morphology of a partially visible new Pseudogarypus in Baltic amber (Pseudoscorpiones: Pseudogarypidae)

Hans Henderickx, Paul Tafforeau, and Carmen Soriano

Plain Language Abstract

The study of fossil arachnids in amber has taken a boost since 2006, when non-destructive X-ray micro CT started to be applied to reconstruct the external and internal parts of invertebrates hidden in opaque amber. Synchrotron based investigations bring this research to a higher level, it enables very high quality X-ray microtomographic imaging of fossils, a method that greatly improves the image contrast. Here a new fossil pseudoscorpion species is described and some of its very small details as trichobothria and cuticular structure are made visible with X-ray synchrotron microtomography. The new species is compared in detail with the other species of this remarkable genus that is only known from North America, Tasmania and European Baltic amber.

Resumen en Español

La microtomogarfía de fuente sincrotrón con contraste de fases revela la morfología de un nuevo

Pseudogarypus (Pseudoscorpiones: Pseudogarypidae) parcialmente visible en ámbar del Báltico

Se describe un nuevo pseudoescorpión fósil, Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., preservado en ámbar del Báltico. Para su visualización se utilizó la microtomografía de rayos X de fuente sincrotrón con contraste de fases y la restauración de grietas superficiales con resina epoxi. Se incluyen también algunos apuntes sobre otros miembros fósiles del mismo género.

Palabras clave: pseudoescorpión fósil; nueva especie; restauración de ámbar del Báltico; microtomografía de rayos X de fuente sincrotrón con contraste de fases

Traducción: Miguel Company

Résumé en Français

La microtomographie synchrotron par contraste de phase révèle la morphologie partiellement visible d'un nouveau Pseudogarypus préservé dans de l'ambre baltique (Pseudoscorpiones: Pseudogarypidae)

Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., un nouveau pseudoscorpion fossile éocène provenant de l'ambre baltique est décrit, une microtomographie par contraste de phrase utilisant le rayonnement X synchrotron et une restauration des fractures de surfaces avec de l'époxy sont utilisées pour visualiser la morphologie, et des commentaires sur les autres membres de ce genre fossile sont donnés.

Mots clés: Pseudoscorpion fossile; nouvelle espèce; restauration de l'ambre baltique; microtomographie par contraste de phrase à rayonnement X synchrotron

Translator: Olivier Maridet

Deutsche Zusammenfassung

Phasenkontrast-Synchotron-Mikrotomographie enthüllt die Morphologie eines nur teilweise sichtbaren neuen Pseudogarypus in Baltischem Bernstein (Pseudoscorpiones: Pseudogarypidae)

Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., ein neuer fossiler eozäner Pseudoskorpion aus dem Baltischen Bernstein wird beschrieben. Mit Phasenkontrast-Synchotron-Röntgenmikrotomographie und Restauration von Oberflächenrissen mit Epoxid wird die Morphologie visualisiert und es werden Anmerkungen zu den anderen fossilen Mitgliedern der Gruppe gemacht.

SCHLÜSSELWÖRTER: fossiler Pseudoskorpion; neue Art; Restoration von Baltischem Bernstein; Phasenkontrast-Synchotron-Röntgenmikrotomographie

Translators: Eva Gebauer and Anke Konietzka


310 arab

Translator: Ashraf M.T. Elewa

Polski Abstrakt

Fazokontrastowa mikrotomografia synchrotronowa ujawnia morfologię częściowo widocznego nowego Pseudogarypus w bursztynie bałtyckim (Pseudoscorpiones: Pseudogarypidae)

W niniejszej pracy opisany jest Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., nowy skamieniały eoceński zaleszczotek z bursztynu bałtyckiego. Morfologia została ujawniona za pośrednictwem fazokontrastowej mikrotomografii synchrotronowej i żywicy epoksydowej do przywrócenia pękniętej powierzchni. Podane są również dane na temat skamieniałych przedstawicieli rodzaju Pseudogarypus.

Słowa kluczowe: skamieniałość zaleszczotka; nowy gatunek; odtwarzanie powierzchni bursztynu bałtyckiego; propagacja fazokontrastowej mikrotomografii synchrotronowej

Translators: Dawid Mazurek, Robert Bronowicz, and Daniel Madzia


Anke Konietzka

FIGURE 1. Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., holotype, right chelal fingers, PPC-SRµCT reconstruction of the pedipalp, at 0.667 µ of voxel size and 50 mm of propagation distance. 1: paraxial; 2: dorsal; 3:ventral; 4: antiaxal; 5: Pseudogarypus extensuswith brood pouch.

figure 1 

FIGURE 2. Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., holotype. 1: inclusion in matrix (Baltic amber); 2: magnification in visible light; 3: PPC-SRµCT 3D reconstruction at PPC-SRµCT 3D reconstruction at 5.06 µm of voxel size, dorsal view; 4: ventral view.

 figure 2

FIGURE 3. Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., holotype. 1: left chela (mirror view); 2: Pseudogarypus hemprichii, right chela, (according BEIER, 1937); 3: Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., paratype, right chela; 4: Pseudogarypus minor, right chela, (according BEIER, 1947); 5: Pseudogarypus extensus, left chela, (according to BEIER, 1937); 6: Pseudogarypus pangaea, left chela. The dimensions are given in mm.

 figure 3

FIGURE 4. Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., holotype, µPPC-SRµCT reconstruction at 2.14 µm of voxel size and 120 mm propagation distance. 1: right, 2: left, 3: front, 4: rear.

 figure 4

FIGURE 5. Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., holotype, habitus dorsal.

figure 5 

FIGURE 6. Pseudogarypus synchrotron sp.n., holotype. 1: ventral reconstruction with coxae, 2: leg I; 3: leg IV; 4: pedipalp left; 5: P. synchrotron sp.n., paratype, left chela with position of trichobothria.

figure 6


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henderickx Department of Biology
Universiteit Antwerpen
Groenenborgerlaan 171
2020 Antwerpen
Belgium (Address for correspondence: Hemelrijkstraat 4, B-2400 Mol)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Hans Henderickx is born in Mol, Belgium in 1961. He started as early as 1984 as researcher in the Life Sciences electron microscope department of Janssen Pharmaceutica (Johnson & Johnson). Initially he was trained in spearpoint technology for digital medical imaging. In 2003 he became department manager. Under the influence of Dr Narcisse Leleup (Brussels, Belgium) he focused on invertebrate morphology and faunistics and in 2012 he was author of 66 publications on invertebrate palaeontology, biospeleology and faunistics. He described 17 new species from different invertebrate groups, extant and fossil. Already in 2006 he published a study with the technique to describe a new arachnid and its external and internal morphology in opaque amber using X-ray micro-CT.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Up to today he is connected as a researcher to the University Antwerp and to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.


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tafforeauEuropean Synchrotron Radiation Facility
6 rue Jules Horowitz
38043 Grenoble cedex

Paul Tafforeau is born in Normandie, France in1977. He obtained his doctorate in the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility where he worked on teeth of primates. He was the first to use X-ray synchrotron microtomography to investigate fossils. After his PhD he returned to the ESRF and he started to work there full time in 2004 as a thematic scientist. In parallel with his main research topic on primate teeth and hominids dental development, he worked on optimizing X-ray synchrotron imaging techniques for fossils high quality non-destructive investigations. In 2006 he obtained the price ‘Young Scientist Award’ of the ESRF. In 2008 a researchgroup with Paul Tafforeau and Malvina Lak (University Rennes) started to examine 100 million year old amber with synchrotron radiation. Through many impressive results obtained during collaborations with teams all over the world, paleontology became one of the important topics at the ESRF.


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sorianoEuropean Synchrotron Radiation Facility
6 rue Jules Horowitz
38043 Grenoble cedex

Carmen Soriano is born in Madrid, Spain in 1976. She studied Biological Sciences (specialty Zoology) in the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid where she graduated in 1999 and achieved her Master Science Degree in Paleontology in 2001. She obtained her doctorate with honors in Geology in 2006 in the Universitat de Barcelona, supervised by Dr. Xavier Delclos, with a project title "Coleopterans from the Lower Cretaceous of Spain: Paleobiology and taphonomy". In 2008 she had her first doctoral stage in the Universite de Rennes I, France. In 2009-2010 she worked at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble. Since then and until today, she has been coordinating the different amber related projects at the ESRF.