DK Science: Computer Reconstruction

Today computers are used in all aspects of dinosaur study. In the field, fossil sites can be mapped and plotted using electronic measuring devices. In the laboratory, techniques such as computer reconstruction enable palaeontologists to create dinosaurs from fossils on screen, and study them as never before – inside and out.

Dinosaur on screen

If doctors want to look inside the human body, they can do this by creating a Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scan. This involves taking X-rays of the patient from many angles, putting the results into a computer, and building up a 3-D image of the patient’s insides. This technique can be used to look inside dinosaur fossils too, and has produced images of the insides of dinosaur bones and inside dinosaur eggs, for example.

Rebuilt in 3-D

When a fossil is found it is usually crushed and distorted by the pressure of sediment and rock over millions of years. However, the image produced by a CAT scan can be manipulated to undo any damage to the specimen to show what it would have looked like before it was deformed, with bones shown in their proper proportions and positions.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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