News / Science & Technology

Famous Dinosaur Chase Reconstructed in 3-D

Famous Dinosaur Chase Reconstructed in 3-Di
X
April 02, 2014 7:36 PM
Peter Falkingham, with London's Royal Veterinary College, on the 3-D imaging reconstruction of an ancient fossilized dinosaur chase.
Peter Falkingham, with London's Royal Veterinary College, discusses the 3-D imaging reconstruction of an ancient fossilized dinosaur chase.
Rosanne Skirble
A British research team has used 3-D imaging to reconstruct the entire route of the most famous fossilized dinosaur tracks ever, a so-called chase scene that was broken up and its pieces put into museums nearly 70 years ago.

Our story begins along a riverbed, about 120 million years ago in the age of the big dinosaurs. A large meat-eating three-toed theropod races close behind a long-neck sauropod, perhaps hungry for his dinner. Their feet press into the mud as they run, and after millions of years their fossil footprints are discovered along the Paluxy River in Glen Rose, Texas.
    
In 1940, those tracks were sent to museums but some were lost in transit.
 
Famous Dinosaur Chase Reconstructed in 3-D
Famous Dinosaur Chase Reconstructed in 3-Di
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Peter Falkingham, with London's Royal Veterinary College, and colleagues wanted to put the entire 45-meter long scene back together.

“As you can imagine a really long trackway from a dinosaur tells a lot more than two or three steps do,” Falkingham said.  

The researchers used 17 photos and hand-drawn maps from Roland T. Bird’s 1940 excavation, coupled with 21st century technology called photogrammetry.

“Which is where you take several digital photographs of an object from multiple positions and the software looks for features in those photographs, matches those features and then basically uses math to figure out the camera positions," Falkingham said. "If we have lots of cameras we can get a 3-D model.”  
 
  • Workers in the trenches on Roland T. Bird’s massive excavation in 1940. (R.T. Bird from the Collections of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin)
  • Footprints in the mud from more than 100 million years ago are the tracks of the three-toed theropod (left) and the broader-footed sauropod (right) in bed of Paluxy River, Texas. (R.T. Bird from the Collections of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin)
  • The chase tracks were divided into segments and shipped off to different museums. (R.T. Bird from the Collections of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin)
  • American Paleontologist Roland T. Bird's handwritten notes on the dinosaur tracks for the 1940 excavation. (R.T. Bird from the Collections of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin)
  • Roland T. Bird’s original drawings of  the excavation site. (PLOS ONE, Falkingham, et.al.)
  • A comparison between Bird’s original sketches and the digital reconstruction. (PLOS ONE, Falkingham, et.al.)
  • Scientists scanned historic photos to develop the new 3-D mode. Credit: PLOS ONE Falkingham et.al
  • 1.Peter Falkingham, of London’s Royal Veterinary College, on the Paluxy River in Texas. He shot the digital photos used to build 3D models of dinosaur tracks. (Peter Falkingham).
  • Peter Falkingham on the Paluxy River, Texas. (Peter Falkingham)

They describe that model in the journal PLOS ONE.

“We can see both the theropod and the sauropod trackway coming down the trench that is being excavated out by Bird and his team," Falkingham said. "We can see the sand bags at the end where they were keeping the river off the tracks that they were excavating. Yeah, we can basically see everything that you could see in the photographs, but now we can see it in 3-D from many angles.”

While photogrammetry is gaining popularity in archeology, paleontology and other fields, Falkingham's study breaks new ground beyond a launch pad for future work.

“What we have done here, as far as I can tell for the first time, is reconstruct something that does not exist anymore, at least in that form and that is pretty exciting because museums hold tens of thousands of specimens and inevitably some get lost and damaged,” he said.

Falkingham says with photo documentation, what can follow are 3-D images and even 3-D printing to create the objects to study both physically and digitally.   

But, for now if people want to see that famous dino chase from 120 million years ago, 3D technology can take them there.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Charles Weber from: USA
April 18, 2014 6:03 AM
Two legged dinosaurs are portrayed in museums and television with their bodies held horizontally and their legs vertical. This is not at all possible because their center of gravity is above their hip bone (or forward of the hip when the body is horizontal). If they had attempted to walk horizontally with their legs vertical they would have toppled forward and protected themselves from impact with the upper part of their huge head. Almost certainly they walked almost erect, but at least at a 45 degree angle, often with the tail held aloft in order to prevent tripping by thrusting it back and to prevent an assailant from jumping on their back. To see a discussion of this see http://charles_w.tripod.com/dinosaur.html or in this journal article http://gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Essays-Paleontology/Download/4718 . If you see any errors in them, please let me know. You may also see an explanation why vertebrate size, extent of bone, and teeth declined during the Cretaceous on the savannas in http://www.angelfire.com/nc/isoptera/termites.html as caused by a phosphorus famine produced by Amitermitinae plant smothering termites starting probably in late Jurassic Australia. Loss of teeth was probably much accented in birds and pterosaurs because of the young eating termite mating insects which had iron oxide and bauxite in their guts.
Sincerely, Charles Weber

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid