There is something universally cool about dinosaurs. For most, the interest takes root in childhood and as the years go by, takes a back, but the fascination remains. Discoveries of new specimens and species that shed light on the mysterious world of these creatures never fail to make headlines. Perhaps our fascination lies in the fact that the dinosaurs are so different from any creatures that we share this planet with today.
So when we heard that a group of paleontologist from the Royal Tyrrell Museum (located only an hour and a half from Calgary in Drumheller, Alberta) were endeavoring to incorporate geomatics technology into their fossil hunting, we were excited about the possibility of collaboration.
The paleontologist were happy to invite us for a tour of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, including a behind the scenes look at the large number of fossils in storage that haven’t yet been prepared for display in the museum’s exhibits. As we were oohing and aahing at the fossils, the paleontologist seemed to be deciding whether or not they could show us something they referred to as “Hellboy”. The fact that they were already showing us around the off-limit areas of the museum including the storage and the preparation labs, it was very intriguing to hear about a specimen that required “top-secret” clearance. At the time of our tour, this specimen was about to be announced to the public as a newly discovered species of dinosaur, that was in Summer 2015, so we are now allowed to speak freely, but at the time we were sworn to secrecy until the press release. As soon at the paleontologists had agreed to let us see the fossil dubbed Hellboy, we of course asked if we could also take laser scans of the fossil, to produce a millimetre level accurate digital 3D model of the dinosaur skull.
Spinning head video of the “Hellboy” fossil – Species Regaliceratops peterhewsi.
Once we captured the point cloud of the skull, we then created a mesh so the skull would appear as a solid object as opposed to a point cloud where the spaces between the points are empty.
Since scanning Hellboy we have also collaborated with the Royal Tyrrell Museum to scan a bone-bed located in Dinosaur Provincial Park, as well as scanning some dinosaur footprints. We are excited to see where else Geomatics and Paleontology can cooperate in the future.