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          xyHt  | Pangaea Past Issues | Field Notes Past Issues                                              March 26, 2017—No. 181

Back to Dinosaur Ridge
Close-range 3D photogrammetry solves mystery of 100-million-year-old dinosaur tracks

Back in the summer of 2014, I visited Dinosaur Ridge, just west of Denver, Colorado, as part of a demonstration of close-range photogrammetry given by CAE Mining, which uses the technology in its volumetric mine site analysis software.

Dinosaur Ridge has become one of the world's most famous dinosaur fossil localities thanks to the discovery in 1877 of some of the best-known dinosaurs, including Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Allosaurus. The park has an interpretative trail with signs at various trail locations that describe the local geology, including a volcanic ash bed, trace fossils, paleo-ecology, and many other geologic and paleontological features.

Among the fossils are more than 300 fossilized dinosaur tracks, including some mysterious scratch marks that paleontologist Martin Lockley recently discovered. Further analysis was undertaken using—you guessed it—close-range 3D photogrammetry. BLM’s Neffra Matthews and Brent Breithaupt used 3D photogrammetry to uncover the answer to three questions:

1) were these scratch marks (close-up view above) actually made by a dinosaur?
2) If so, what specific species made them? And
3) what was the behavior that drove the prehistoric creatures to make these long, violent scratches in the earth?

Paleontological analysis of the 3D imagery concluded that the scratches were indeed by a dinosaur approximately 100 million years ago. Footprint data pointed to a species of Theropoda, a carnivorous creature known to populate the area in that long-distant era.

The answer to the last question has given us a window into the behavior of the Therapods. Martin Lockley’s theory is that the scratches were made as part of an individual male Theropod’s mating ritual. To understand this idea, consider that paleontologists believe that dinosaurs are the ancient ancestors of today’s modern birds. Many modern birds, including the Atlantic Puffin, the Australian Brush Turkey, and the Plover, exhibit the same ritualistic scratching, a demonstration to prospective mates of a male bird’s prowess in nest building.

This discovery is a landmark in paleontology, possibly the biggest find in 50 years. It’s notable for the fact that while fossilized dinosaur bones tell us about how dinosaurs died, fossilized dinosaur tracks tell us how they lived. With a big assist from 3D photogrammetry, of course!

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Free Pre-Conference Scanning Workshop at SPAR 3D
The big news: Trimble is hosting a free 3D Scanning Solutions Workshop at the SPAR Expo and Conference. When: Monday April 3rd from 9:00 am–12:30 pm at the Trimble Booth #407. What: Get hands-on experience with the new Trimble SX10 scanning total station and the Trimble TX8 3D laser scanner. Bring your laptop and get demonstration licenses to run Trimble Business Center, Trimble RealWorks and SketchUp software, and learn to process scans and produce powerful deliverables. Register online.
Seafloor Systems Introduces Its EchoBoat-G2 USV Survey Boat
The big news: Seafloor Systems, Incorporated introduces the EchoBoat-G2 Unmanned Survey Vessel (USV) with the ability to execute survey missions via remote control or semi-autonomous operation. What: with its AutoNav auto pilot module, the operator can pre-plan survey waypoints, upload via RF to the vehicle, and the EchoBoat drone will automatically execute the mission, going from waypoint to waypoint, then return to base. With the EchoBoat- G2 it is now possible to run regular surveys, impromptu post-storm/event debris mapping, or routine inspection survey missions—all via remote control and laptop on the dock. Learn more online.
IMAGINiT Technologies Acquires PacifiCAD
The big news: Rand Worldwide, a provider of technology solutions to organizations with engineering design and information technology requirements, today announced that its IMAGINiT Technologies division has acquired PacifiCAD, an Autodesk Gold Partner headquartered in Spokane, Washington. What: PacifiCAD customers join a growing subscriber base as IMAGINiT continues to expand throughout the US and Canada. As an Autodesk Platinum Partner with more than 40 offices, IMAGINiT provides subscribers with access to a wide network of technical experts in architecture, engineering, construction and manufacturing. Learn more on IMAGINiT’s website.

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