We’re glad to be part of so many different projects due to collaborations with many scientists of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. Here, I’d like to introduce a few long-term projects and you’re welcome to send me your questions and suggestions!
The analysis of the morphology of bony structures of several animal groups is one of the main topics we work on again and again. My own focus is on the development and illustration of miniaturised snakes. This characteristic appears in the genus Eirenis, for instance. We are able to reach a statistically useful amount of data about the anatomy of animals using the CT, which doesn’t destroy the specimens. I’ve shown this with my Master’s thesis „Analyse cranialer Wachstumsmerkmale und -trajektorien innerhalb der Gattung Eirenis (Squamata, Serpentes, Colubridae) im Vergleich mit nahe verwandten Taxa anhand von Röntgen-mikro-Computertomografie-Scans“ (in english: „Analysis of cranial growth traits and trajectories within the genus Eirenis (Squamata, Serpentes, Colubridae) in comparison to closely related taxa on the basis of X-ray micro computer tomography scans“). This long title actually comprises everything you need to know about the application of the µCT for ontogenetic analyses. Anything is possible!
To see the development of species from juvenile to adult as well as the differences between species we can set landmarks on each skull (see above) and analyse them with different programs. Furthermore, we can use this method to create shape models. In cooperation with the Zuse Institute Berlin we created shape models of a particular bone. Using these models we want to develop a quite automatic segmentation for snake skulls. In addition, we will use the shape models to analyse single bones of different snake taxa. Currently, this project is still in an early stage of development, but we are highly motivated to simplify the segmentation of boney structures!
For further information about this project just write me or click here: http://www.zib.de/projects/morphometric-analysis-para-basisphenoid-complex-snake-genus-eirenis
Besides the visualisation of solid structures like bones and cartilage our lab also deals with the visualisation of soft tissue. This is a new sector within the CT technique and it becomes more and more important for researchers, as it is useful in many ways. Almost every animal can be stained with iodine and then visualised completely by the use of the CT. In our lab most fields of application are:
Recent reptiles or embryos of mammals
Crustaceans and their sexual characteristics
Even nerve tracts, muscle fibre or the structure of the genital apparatus of insects
As you see this already is a diverse technique for the field of 3D projects and it’s not the end of all options! Currently, we work on long-term projects, that deal with specific methods for staining. We hope this leads to a more precise scan of very fine structures!
Of course – as a natural history museum – we also investigate fossils. We try to discover the beauty of the stone’s inside. But we never know what kind of material the stone consists of and which metal reservoir we find or if everything we assumed is toootally different. Therefore, fossils are a little challenge.
Scanning fossils are part of my tasks, but they don’t belong to my specialisations. Here I show you some pretty fossil scans I like very much. Send me an email to mikroctlabor(at) if you have questions or ideas for new projects to discuss!