Pushing Raman spectroscopy over the edge: purported signatures of organic molecules in fossils are instrumental artefacts
Claims for the widespread preservation of fossilized biomolecules in many fossil animals have recently been reported in six studies, based on Raman microspectroscopy. Here, we show that the putative Raman signatures of organic compounds in these fossils are actually instrumental artefacts resulting from intense background luminescence. Raman spectroscopy relies upon the detection of photons scattered inelastically by matter as a result of its interaction with a laser beam. For many natural materials, this interaction also generates a luminescence signal that is often orders of magnitude more intense than the light produced by Raman scattering. Such luminescence, coupled with the transmission properties of the spectrometer, induced quasi-periodic ripples in the measured spectra that have been incorrectly interpreted as Raman signatures of organic molecules. Although several analytical strategies have been developed to overcome this common issue, Raman microspectroscopy as used in the studies questioned here cannot be used to identify fossil biomolecules. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
- Downloaded 907 times
- Download rankings, all-time:
- Site-wide: 32,803
- In paleontology: 62
- Year to date:
- Site-wide: 15,302
- Since beginning of last month:
- Site-wide: 91,817
Downloads over time
Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide
- 27 Nov 2020: The website and API now include results pulled from medRxiv as well as bioRxiv.
- 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
- 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
- 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
- 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
- 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
- 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
- 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
- 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!