Coelacanth reveals new insights into skull evolution

A team of researchers, in conjunction with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, presents the first observations of the development of the skull and brain in the living coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae.

The study, published in Nature, uses data from beamline ID19 and provides new insights into the biology of this iconic animal and the evolution of the vertebrate skull.
The coelacanth Latimeria is a marine fish closely related to tetrapods, four-limbed vertebrates including amphibians, mammals and reptiles. Coelacanths were thought to have been extinct for 70 million years, until the accidental capture of a living specimen by a South African fisherman in 1938. Eighty years after its discovery, Latimeria remains of scientific interest for understanding the origin of tetrapods and the evolution of their closest fossil relatives – the lobe-finned fishes.

>Read more on the European Synchrotron website

Image: Overall anterolateral view of the skull of the coelacanth foetus imaged on beamline ID19. The brain is in yellow.
Credit: H. Dutel et al.

Illuminating extinct plants generates new knowledge

By using infrared micro-spectroscopy at beamline D7 situated at the MAX III storage ring (closed December 2015) scientists from Lund University, Vilnius University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm have been able to identify molecular signatures of fossil leaves. Through the research the scientists have been able to establish relationships between 200-million-year-old plants based on their chemical fingerprints.

Read more on the MAX-IV website

Image: Leaves on a Gingko tree growing on the inner yard of MAX IV Laboratory in Lund. Credit: MAX-IV