Paper No. 38-21
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
DETERMINING THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ORGANIC COMPOUNDS FOUND IN FOSSIL PLANTS VERSUS FOSSIL ANIMALS VIA RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY
The purpose of this research is to identify whether there are compounds preserved in fossilized flora that are distinct from fossil animals via Raman spectroscopy. Raman works on the basis of scattering, which is the temporary distortion of electrons around the bonds of molecules, then the re-emission of the radiation as the bond returns to its normal state. The scattering of photons causes excitation and subsequent re-emission of a photon of lower (Stokes scattering) or higher (anti-Stokes scattering) energy. Raman is extremely well oriented to study proteins and metal-organic compounds. This project is ongoing using one main fossil specimen of a currently unidentified leaf and Libellula doris (an insect). This fossil is of interest due to the juxtaposition of the flora and fauna, which can be easily compared through Raman spectroscopy. Several other plant fossil samples across varying clades will also be analyzed for organic compounds. Discriminate analyses will yield the key differences between plant and animal fossil spectra, which lends to the understanding of the taphonomic process. Currently, there is little research focused on paleo-phytochemistry and this would lead to advancements in understanding how compounds are preserved differently in the plant kingdom. This research could also be extended to elucidate the appearance and early structures of secondary metabolites in plants.