A team headed by Dr. Abderrazak El Albani from Laboratoire HydrASA has found 2 billion year old fossils of multicellular organisms in West Africa. With the help of computed tomography on basis of the Viscom X-ray inspection system X8050 available at the University of Poitiers, the researchers non-destructively analyzed the interior of the fossils. Ultimately, the virtual 3-D reconstruction of the external and internal morphology of the fossils delivered the decisive knowledge for the question, when the first multicellular organisms on Earth emerged. Unicellular organisms such as bacteria have existed on this planet for around 2.5 billion years. True multicellular organisms, first developed around 540 million years ago. Yet even before this time, organisms comprised of several cells came into existence. Fossils from this prehistoric stage of life are extremely rare and can only be analyzed with extreme difficulty. Thus this find, made in the southeast of Gabon by Dr. Abderrazak El Albani from the Université de Poitiers and his team, is viewed as a sensation. These macrofossils, were dated to an age of around 2.1 billion years. Their outer form look a bit like cookies; they are about 1–12 centimeters long and at first glance, seem rather unimposing.
Despite this, a thorough analysis by the X8050 from Viscom done with the collaboration of the company ERM revealed structures characteristics of multcellular organisms. Researchers identify this structure as evidence of coordinated growth and so, for the historic representatives of multicellular life. Dr. El Albani: “Our fossils are composed of pyrite. And with the Viscom inspection system X8050 it is very easy to get good pictures for our analysis. The images are extremely clear, so we can see a lot of inner morphological details of the structures in this organism. Until now we have analyzed more than 150 specimen with this machine.” Christian Morlier, General Manager of the Viscom subsidiary in France complimented the research team on the great success and he was pleased with the contribution made by Viscom X-ray technology. „Of course we also allow ourselves a touch of pride, that our X-ray technology could have contributed to the analysis of such a sensational find. Today, a high performance, high resolution X-ray inspection is capable of sharply depicting even the smallest interior objects and with the 3-D reconstruction, essential information is delivered without having to destroy the object.“