Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Diminishing dinosaur steps saved by laser and laptop

10.05.2007
Fading dinosaur tracks unearthed in a Spanish quarry have been digitally preserved by experts from The University of Manchester using the latest laser technology.

The Fumanya site, in the Berguedà region of central Catalonia, is so delicate that experts cannot get physically close enough to the tracks to examine them.

In the years since the tracks were discovered they have been exposed to the elements, and as a result are severely weathered and eroding at a rapid rate. To make things even more difficult, the tracks are imprinted into near-vertical rock faces.

Palaeontologists feared the tracks could be lost forever - but a permanent and detailed record has now been created using cutting-edge equipment.

Using a high-tech laser scanning system called RIEGL, researchers from The School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental have produced an interactive 3D model of a quarry face covered in thousands of tracks made by the late Cretaceous dinosaurs, including sauropods and possibly predatory theropod dinosaurs.

The portable system, which is powered by a battery, works by rotating and firing laser beams, which reflect off the quarry faces back to a receiver. The device then cross references the reflections with a built-in digital camera and GPS, and feeds the information into an attached laptop. Software is then used to create a detailed and very accurate 3D computer model of the location.

This technology has allowed researchers to closely examine and analyse the Spanish quarry tracks from many different angles and even inside out.

This information is very important for palaeontologists and dinosaur locomotion experts, because it gives an insight into the way these dinosaurs moved and the environments in which they lived.

The on-going project - run in conjunction with Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona - is being led by palaeontologist Dr Phil Manning, who received a grant of Euro 9,000 from the Consorci Ruta Minera to fund the laser scanning.

The computer modelling for the project was done by Dr David Hodgetts, a senior lecturer in Reservoir Modelling and Petroleum Geology.

Student Karl Bates, who is now carrying out Post Graduate research into dinosaur locomotion, worked on the Fumanya tracks for his MPhil degree project.

Karl said: "Due to the fragile environment and the sensitivity of the site we were not permitted direct contact and therefore all measurements had to taken remotely.

Dr Manning added: "Laser scanning allowed the rapid, high resolution, 3D digital mapping of an otherwise inaccessible site. The computer-generated trackways we have created preserve important information on the locomotion of dinosaurs, which can be properly accessed for the first time."

It took four days for a team from the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences to collect all the necessary information to create a comprehensive 3D model of the quarry, although some initial results were available within just 15 minutes.

The quarry, which lies to the north of Barcelona, was still active until fairly recently, but there are now plans to make it a protected site of special scientific interest.

Dr Manning was part of the UNESCO team who initially evaluated the trackway localities in Northern Spain, as part of a pending Iberian Peninsula World Heritage Site application.

Although the footprints are imprinted in a vertical cliff face, the surface the dinosaurs travelled across millions of years ago would have been flat.

The School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences was the first academic department in the country to acquire the RIEGL scanning equipment. Only one other department in the UK can boast such equipment.

The equipment is generally used in oil exploration, but this project is the first time The University has used it to create images of dinosaur tracks.

Dr Manning has also extended the use of the scanner to palaeontological investigation in the Hell Creek Formation in the United States, home to the infamous Tyrannosaurs Rex.

Jon Keighren | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uab.es
http://www.manchester.ac.uk/eps

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Deep Learning predicts hematopoietic stem cell development
21.02.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Sensors embedded in sports equipment could provide real-time analytics to your smartphone
16.02.2017 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>