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

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid