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Awarded Funding - Undergraduate Research Bursary PA-UB201401




Undergraduate Research Bursary

Award Amount


Award Date

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


X-ray approaches to identification of tropical plant fossils

Principle Applicant

Neil Adams (Royal Holloway, London)

Associated Applicants

Prof. Margaret Collinson (Royal Holloway, London)


Techniques in X-ray microscopy, micro-computed tomography (CT) and synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy (SRXTM) were used to analyse fossil floras from two interesting intervals in the Cenozoic: the Eocene and Miocene. The Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO), 52–49 Ma, was the warmest time in the Cenozoic, when tropical vegetational belts spread across much of the Northern Hemisphere (Wolfe 1985). The flora of the London Clay Formation, likened to modern paratropical rainforests, is very diverse and a global benchmark for EECO vegetation (Collinson 1983).

The Miocene, 25 Myr later, was a critical time in the evolution of our own lineage: apes arose and underwent diversification during this epoch (Stewart and Disotell 1998). Hominoids, including Proconsul, are known from the early Miocene of Africa, for instance, from the deposits on Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, Kenya (Walker et al. 1993). The Rusinga Island deposits have also proven to be rich in floral remains (Collinson et al. 2009). Palaeobotanical studies of this early Miocene flora are important, because they help improve the understanding of the environment and vegetation in which hominoids evolved.

Outcomes (Online Content)

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