This research project concentrates on remarkably well preserved Australian Paleozoic radiolarians which are 530-300 million year old. The species level identification and detailed systematic investigations of this group are currently established on the combinations of exterior and interior morphological features. However, to identify the true evolutionary relationships, it is essential to examine their internal skeletal architecture. Since radiolarian growth begins internally, similar internal characteristics represents true phylogenetic links. Therefore this project uses a non-destructive, 3D imaging technology named, X-ray micro computed tomography (3D micro-CT) to further understand the evolution of this fossil group. This technology uses x-rays to create multiple cross-sections of a physical object that can be used to recreate a virtual model (3D model) without destroying the original object. Computer reconstruction of this 3D images will reveal fossil internal specifications upon which a profound understanding of early phylogenetic relationships within this phylum can be developed. This in turn will allow realization of the full biostratigraphic potential of this important long-ranging group of marine protozoans.

Funding: University of Queensland Research Training Program

Advisors: Professor Jonathan Aitchison, Dr Gilbert Price

Project members

Siyumini PERERA

PhD candidate