#Wits100 donation will be used to fund the Micro CT scanner upgrade to benefit palaeontologists.

Palaeontologists at Wits are set to benefit from a R10 million bequest, which will give them x-ray vision to “see” into solid rock, without destroying the fossil or the sedimentary material in which it is embedded.

The R10 million will be used to renew the University’s Micro CT scanner, which enables scientists to scan a fossil-bearing rock sample using 3D imaging to examine a fossil without having to painstakingly physically remove the fossil from the rock. It uses 3D x-rays to scan inside an object, bit by bit, without having to break it open. This will save time and will also ensure the preservation of the fossil in the rock or sedimentary material.

“Given that Wits is now excavating thousands of fossils from various places around the country, this technology will help scientists to save time and resources, and will greatly advance their research,” says Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University. “Wits is a leader in the palaeosciences and the renewal of the Micro CT scanner will enable scientists to continue to scan fossils from Africa on home soil. This will also allow us to tell our stories of the origins of Earth and Life from our perspective in the Global South.”

A project team has been approved and a project manager has been appointed to drive the design, procurement, acquisition, and commissioning of the new facility, and to provide a turn-key solution to Wits scientists.

“We are extremely grateful to the generous benefactor who left this bequest, as an ongoing gift to the University. Her foresight and investment in science, research and development, will not only benefit scientists and students at Wits in our centenary year – it is a lasting gift that will impact on our entire society, and will benefit generations of peoples to come,” adds Vilakazi.

“Wits is national treasure that occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of South Africans,” explains Vilakazi. “It makes a significant impact on society in multiple spheres. This bequest will go a long way in helping us to realise these goals.”

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