From dinosaurs to sea turtles, and from technical assistance to advisory roles, SMU faculty and students, the SMU Shuler Museum, and the SMU Innovation Gymnasium, team with the nation's new premier museum of nature and science. Fossils on loan by SMU to the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science include those of animals from an ancient sea that once covered Dallas.
The May 2011 issue of Earth Magazine reports on the research of SMU paleontologists in the SMU Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.
In a project led by SMU paleontologist Thomas L. Adams, the scientists used portable laser scanning technology to capture field data of a huge 110 million-year-old Texas dinosaur track and then create to scale an exact 3D facsimile.
They have shared their protocol and findings with the public — as well as their downloadable 145-megabyte model — in the online scientific journal Palaeontologia Electronica. The model duplicates an actual dinosaur footprint fossil that is slowly being destroyed by weathering because it's on permanent outdoor display, says Adams.
3D digital download of giant Glen Rose dinosaur track is roadmap for saving at-risk natural history resources
Internet users now can download an exact facsimile of the huge fossil footprint of a 110 million-year-old dinosaur that is a favorite track from Texas' well-known Dinosaur Valley State Park.
SMU scientists created the digital facsimile using 3D laser technology and are making it available free to the public. The model preserves a footprint on permanent outdoor display that's being destroyed by weathering, says SMU paleontologist Thomas L. Adams.
Using portable 3D laser technology, scientists have preserved electronically a rare 110 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur footprint that was previously excavated and built into the wall of a bandstand at a Texas courthouse in the 1930s.
The laser image preserves what is called a "type specimen" footprint — an original track used many years ago to describe a new species of dinosaur, says paleontologist Thomas L. Adams at SMU.
Portable 3D laser scanners capture original fossil morphology and texture, making it possible to use the data for rapid 3D prototyping in foam or resin, Adams says.
"The track is scientifically very important," says Adams. "But it's also a historical and cultural icon for Texas."