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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid