Hugh Pickens writes: "Scientists at Imperial College London have created detailed 3D computer models of two fossilized specimens of ancient creatures called Cryptomartus hindi and Eophrynus prestvicii, closely related to modern-day spiders. The researchers created their images by using a CT scanning device, which enabled them to take 3,000 x-rays of each fossil then compile them into precise 3D models, using custom-designed software. Both spiders roamed the Earth before the dinnosaurs during the Carboniferous period, 359 — 299 million years ago when life was emerging from the oceans to live on land. C. hindi's front pair of legs were angled toward the front, suggesting they were used to grapple with prey, an "ambush predator" like the modern-day crab spider, lying in wait for prey to come close. Another finding from the models is that E. prestivicii had hard spikes along its back, probably as a defensive measure making it less palatable to the amphibians that would have hunted it. "Our models almost bring these ancient creatures back to life and it's really exciting to be able to look at them in such detail," says researcher Russel Garwood adding that the technique could be used to return to fossils that have previously been analyzed by conventional means. "Our study helps build a picture of what was happening during this period early in the history of life on land.""
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