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Sci Data. 2016 Jun 7;3:160040. doi: 10.1038/sdata.2016.40.

X-ray computed tomography datasets for forensic analysis of vertebrate fossils.

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High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility, Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.
Department of Anatomy, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


We describe X-ray computed tomography (CT) datasets from three specimens recovered from Early Cretaceous lakebeds of China that illustrate the forensic interpretation of CT imagery for paleontology. Fossil vertebrates from thinly bedded sediments often shatter upon discovery and are commonly repaired as amalgamated mosaics grouted to a solid backing slab of rock or plaster. Such methods are prone to inadvertent error and willful forgery, and once required potentially destructive methods to identify mistakes in reconstruction. CT is an efficient, nondestructive alternative that can disclose many clues about how a specimen was handled and repaired. These annotated datasets illustrate the power of CT in documenting specimen integrity and are intended as a reference in applying CT more broadly to evaluating the authenticity of comparable fossils.

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