Systematic experiments to quantitatively assess image quality for CT scans of a Karoo tetrapod fossil

Tshibalanganda, Muofhe
du Plessis, Anton
Le Roux, Stephan G.
Taylor, Wendy L.
Smith, Roger M. H.
Browning, Claire
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Evolutionary Studies Institute
Over the past decade non-destructive, three-dimensional visualization and analysis of fossils using X-ray tomography has greatly advanced palaeontological studies worldwide. Micro-computed tomography (microCT) is now accepted as best practice in palaeontological studies to augment the anatomical description of newly discovered fossils. Despite advances in laboratory microCT hardware, software and skills of users, there is a lack of clear methodologies for scanning and analysing fossils. Here we report on a systematic and detailed study of the quantitative effects of the variation of different microCT scanning parameters on the image quality of an unprepared fossilized Karoo tetrapod skull and parts of the postcrania. Results indicate that voltage variations do not increase the contrast for the bone as one would expect, and the best image quality solution is found using high frame averaging and high X-ray flux (current). Although this study was limited to one specimen, the results may find a practical use for future studies involving similar fossils.
MicroCT, Image quality, X-ray tomography, palaeontology