Synchrotron imaging reveals bone healing and remodelling strategies in extinct and extant vertebrates

Jennifer Anné, Nicholas P Edwards, Roy A Wogelius, Allison R Tumarkin-Deratzian, William I Sellers, Arjen van Veelen, Uwe Bergmann, Dimosthenis Sokaras, Roberto Alonso-Mori, Konstantin Ignatyev, Victoria M Egerton, Phillip L Manning

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Current understanding of bone healing and remodelling strategies in vertebrates has traditionally relied on morphological observations through the histological analysis of thin sections. However, chemical analysis may also be used in such interpretations, as different elements are known to be absorbed and used by bone for different physiological purposes such as growth and healing. These chemical signatures are beyond the detection limit of most laboratory-based analytical techniques (e.g. scanning electron microscopy). However, synchrotron rapid scanning–X-ray fluorescence (SRS–XRF) is an elemental mapping technique that uniquely combines high sensitivity (ppm), excellent sample resolution (20–100 µm) and the ability to scan large specimens (decimetre scale) approximately 3000 times faster than other mapping techniques. Here, we use SRS–XRF combined with microfocus elemental mapping (2–20 µm) to determine the distribution and concentration of trace elements within pathological and normal bone of both extant and extinct archosaurs (Cathartes aura and Allosaurus fragilis). Results reveal discrete chemical inventories within different bone tissue types and preservation modes. Chemical inventories also revealed detail of histological features not observable in thin section, including fine structures within the interface between pathological and normal bone as well as woven texture within pathological tissue.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20140277
    JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
    Issue number96
    Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2014


    • Archosaur
    • Bone
    • Fracture healing
    • Histology
    • SRS-XRF


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