Portable laser scanner preserves dinosaur tracks

June 1, 2007
Fading tracks made by the Cretaceous dinosaurs-including sauropods and possibly predatory theropod dinosaurs-that were unearthed in a quarry to the north of Barcelona, Spain, have been digitally preserved by researchers from the University of Manchester (Manchester, England) using a portable laser-scanning system.

Fading tracks made by the Cretaceous dinosaurs-including sauropods and possibly predatory theropod dinosaurs-that were unearthed in a quarry to the north of Barcelona, Spain, have been digitally preserved by researchers from the University of Manchester (Manchester, England) using a portable laser-scanning system. The battery-powered scanner, made by 3-D Laser Mapping (Nottingham, England), rotates and fires laser beams that reflect off the quarry faces and back to a receiver. The device then cross-references the reflections with a built-in digital camera and GPS (global-positioning system) information, feeding the information into an attached laptop. Software creates a detailed and accurate 3-D computer model of the location.

The technology has allowed researchers to closely examine and analyze the Spanish quarry tracks from many different angles and even inside out. Led by palaeontologist Phillip Manning, the ongoing project is run in conjunction with Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain). Contact Manning at [email protected].

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