Journal of Undergraduate Research


insect visual systems, fossils, phylogenetic systematics


Life Sciences




Goals one and three were both very successful (more below), however goal two became bogged down and was ultimately abandoned. CT-scanning is a process that requires hundreds or even thousands of fine x-rays through an organism in cross-section to be “stacked” together. Stacking the x-rays together allows researchers to literally explore the internal and external anatomy of organisms in ways never before possible. The most successful scans are those produced when tissues are discrete and have different attributes in terms of pattern, hardness, etc. We focused heavily on fossil specimens embedded in amber. Unfortunately, the cuticle of these specimens were not sufficiently different in hardness, etc. from the amber they were embedded in and the result was not usable for our goals. Additionally, the expertise to run the programs to trace the scans was difficult for students to learn who worked only a few hours in the lab. We had not anticipated this problem prior to MEG funding since we had had good luck with it in the past. It may have been a mismatch in student interests and project. We will try this goal again in the future when we have a student more passionate about internal anatomy and CT-scans of multiple specimens so that there will be a more comparative option. Still, we were able to publish a paper involving goal two, but it did not include any BYU undergraduates as co-authors.

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