Royal Philips said today that researchers at the Naturalis museum in Leiden, Netherlands used its IQon CT scanner to closely examine the tail vertebrae of a 66 million year-old T-Rex named Trix.
Philips’ IQon scanner is the 1st detector-based spectral CT, using a dual-layer detector and advanced spectral reconstruction to compose a detailed image. Researchers from the museum hoped that the instrument could provide more detail than images from a traditional CT.
“The IQon filters out all the ‘noise,’ as it were, thereby providing a really good insight into the bone structure and how it is built up,” Naturalis paleontologist and dinosaur expert Anne Schulp said in prepared remarks. “It’s basically making the step from black and white movies to color. In this way, we are able to add depth to Trix’s medical records: we make the invisible visible. It’s just really hard to describe the sensation of finding something, seeing something that no one else has ever seen.”
Trix was discovered in Montana in 2013 and brought to the Netherlands in August 2016. Trix’s tail is very well preserved, according to the museum, which is rare – normally the small parts of the vertebrae are washed away before fossilization or scavenged.
“We have already looked at some of the bones using a regular medical CT scanner, but we had a little problem,” Schulp explained. “There is a deposit of pyrite – an iron rich mineral that blurs the complete picture because it absorbs the X-rays. So basically we required a different technology.”
In 2015, Philips’ scanners were used to study the everyday habits and health of the people who died at Pompeii by analyzing their bones.
After initial scans of Trix’s tail vertebrae, more research will be done to understand Trix’s medical history, Philips said.
“What the IQon is doing is acquiring two different X-ray energy levels in a single acquisition. It’s fantastic to see how a detailed three-dimensional image is built up,” Philips Benelux clinical scientist Julien Milles added. “With Trix, we were able to identify and color-highlight bone structure, even with ‘remineralized’ versions of the original bones. So in one picture it is just one white blob. And then all of a sudden, at the click of a mouse, there is the next one where all the details in the bone pop up. And that with a 66 million year old lady!”