Third-harmonic generation microscopy reveals dental anatomy in ancient fossils

Yu Cheng Chen, Szu Yu Lee, Yana Wu, Kirstin Brink, Dar Bin Shieh, Timothy D. Huang, Robert R. Reisz, Chi Kuang Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Fossil teeth are primary tools in the study of vertebrate evolution, but standard imaging modalities have not been capable of providing high-quality images in dentin, the main component of teeth, owing to small refractive index differences in the fossilized dentin. Our first attempt to use third-harmonic generation (THG) microscopy in fossil teeth has yielded significant submicrometer level anatomy, with an unexpectedly strong signal contrasting fossilized tubules from the surrounding dentin. Comparison between fossilized and extant teeth of crocodilians reveals a consistent evolutionary signature through time, indicating the great significance of THG microscopy in the evolutionary studies of dental anatomy in fossil teeth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1354-1357
Number of pages4
JournalOptics Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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