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Palaeobotany: New ways with old fossils

The evolutionary relationships between extinct species are almost exclusively based on the shape and structure of their fossil specimens. Now, a spectroscopic technique that records a ‘chemical fingerprint’ of fossil plant cuticles is being used to re-interpret the histories of thousands of specimens languishing in museum collections.

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Author information


  1. Jennifer C. McElwain at the School of Biology and Environmental Science, Earth Institute, University College Dublin, Ireland.

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Competing interests

The author declares no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jennifer C. McElwain.