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What can infrared spectroscopy do for characterizing organic remnant in fossils?

Bobroff, Vladimir, Chen, Hsiang-Hsin, Javerzat, Sophie, Petibois, Cyril
Trends in analytical chemistry 2016 v.82 pp. 443-456
databases, fossils, infrared spectroscopy, microscopy, mineralization, phylogeny, spectral analysis, tissues
Analytical techniques allowed describing the morphology of fossils, up the 3D level, and more recently, molecular remains are also characterized to understand evolutionary aspects of disappeared species. The preservation of original organic components in fossils is controversial, but elucidating evolutionary processes and phylogenetic relationships is invaluable. Infrared (IR) microscopy is one of the most interesting analytical technique, due to its non-destructive utilization and its sensitivity for extracting most of the inorganic and organic information in fossils. However, utilization of IR microscopy has rapidly raised controversies in paleontology, essentially because the interpretation of spectral data remains limited to experienced spectroscopists and also due to the nature of fossilized tissues, becoming mostly inorganic after the mineralization process. This review discusses the most important discoveries made by the use of IR microscopy for the analysis of fossils and provides a comprehensive IR bands database for interpreting fossil inorganic and organic contents.