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Dinosaur Chase Tracks Recreated in 3D

The most famous dinosaur chase scene outside of those in “Jurassic Park” was found at the Paluxy River dinosaur tracksite in Dinosaur Valley Sate Park near Glen Rose, Texas. The 110 million-year-old tracks appear to be made by a theropod chasing a sauropod. Because of the way they were removed and stored, some of the tracks have been lost. Recently, a team of researchers used 3D imaging software, 17 old photographs and what’s left of the fossils to digitally recreate the chase tracks.

In 1940, Dr. Roland T. Bird, paleontologist and dinosaur track expert from the American Museum of Natural History in New York, photographed the tracks, mapped the area using string and then removed the 30-foot-long trackway from the Paluxy River by breaking up the foot-or-more-thick sheet of limestone. He numbered the pieces and shipping them back to New York by rail. Some of the trackway was reassembled and is on display in the dinosaur hall of the museum. The remaining pieces are deteriorating, which prompted the idea to recreate the original digitally.

Excavation of dinosaur tracks from Paluxy River bed

Excavation of dinosaur tracks from Paluxy River bed

The project, described in the journal Plos One, was led by Peter Falkingham from the Royal Veterinary College of the University of London. His team scanned the photographs, the pieces of the trackway and Bird’s original hand-drawn maps of the area where they were found. Using VisualSFM 3D, a GUI application for 3D reconstruction using structure from motion, they digitally put the chase scene back together for the first time in over 70 years.

dinosaur chase tracks

Dinosaur chase tracks

The journal describes the importance of this project.

It is an exciting prospect to think that many palaeontological or archaeological specimens that have been lost to science, or suffered irreparable damage, may be digitally reconstructed in 3D using free software and a desktop computer.

Photographs were the key. So stop taking selfies and start shooting pictures of the historic sites you visit.

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Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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