Feeds

Paleontologists: Standardise 3D laser image files, for pity's sake

End this misery of plaster moulds, incompatible formats

Seven Steps to Software Security

Bone-fancying boffins in the States have issued an impassioned call for the world of paleontology to standardise on a digital file format for 3D images of fossils before it's too late.

Ellis W. Shuler's photo of Glen Rose track

Until recently, fossils were recorded by investigating boffins using moulds or casts of plaster or rubber. But such records are cumbersome, taking up a lot of space and difficult for scientists around the world to examine easily. Furthermore, the process of record-taking is invasive and priceless relics of the ancient past can be damaged.

The answer, says paleontologist Thomas Adams, is 3D laser mapping to produce a digital record of important fossilized dinosaur bones, footprints, eggs etc. Many modern bone-botherers employ such techniques, but there is no agreement on formats and thus the records so generated may not be usable in future.

"Currently there is no single 3D format that is universally portable and accepted by all software manufacturers and researchers," write Adams and his colleagues in a new paper, in which they set out their suggestion for a new standard fossil-scan format.

In order to demo their technique, the scientists imaged a well-known fossilized dino footprint in a slab of stone which is built into a bandstand in Texas. This footprint was originally investigated back in 1935, but, illustrating Adams and his team's point, the moulds and casts made back then are now lost. Meanwhile, the footprint is gradually crumbling away due to being outdoors in all weathers.

A statement from Souther Methodist University (where Adams works) accompanying the research outlines the methods the boffins used to image the print:

Adams and his research colleagues took a portable scanner to the bandstand site to capture the 3D images. They employed a NextEngine HD Desktop 3D scanner and ScanStudio HD PRO software running on a standard Windows XP 32 laptop. The scanner and laptop were powered from outlets on the bandstand. The researchers used a tent to control lighting and maximize laser contrast.

Because of the footprint's size — about 2 feet by 1.4 feet (64cm by 43cm) — multiple overlapping images were required to capture the full footprint.

Raw scans were imported into Rapidform XOR2 Redesign to align and merge them into a single 3D model. The final 3D model was derived from 52 overlapping scans totaling 2GB, the authors said. The full-resolution 3D digital model comprises more than 1 million poly-faces and more than 500,000 vertices with a resolution of 1.2mm. It is stored in Wavefront format. In that format the model is about 145MB.

The findings, complete with 3D image "digitype" are published in the online paleontology journal Paleontologia Electronica. The e-journal also offers the footprint in QuickTime VR format, and a pdf of the original 1935 paper – itself no longer in print. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.