National Computational Infrastructure

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Fossil fish sport world’s oldest six packs

fossil fish abs

Among the National CT-Lab Tomography Collection, housed at NCI, is the first visualisation of the world’s oldest fossilised abdominal muscles.

These ancient abs belong to a fish that lived approximately 380 million years ago in what is now Western Australia.

“These fossils are enclosed in limestone, and are normally extracted using weak acid,” explains Dr Gavin Young from ANU.

“Numerous beautiful skeletons of extinct fishes have been prepared using this method, but it was not realised that preserved soft tissues were being destroyed in the process.”

The NCI VizLab team helped the researchers, led by Associate Professor Kate Trinajstic of Curtin University, to digitally recreate the fossil in 3D using scan data from the ANU micro-CT facility to see inside without damaging the specimen.

“We were stunned to find that our ancient fossil fishes had abs,” said Associate Professor Trinajstic.

“Abdominal muscles were thought to be an invention of animals that first walked onto the land but this discovery shows that they appeared much earlier.”

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