Jan 13, 2016 | By Tess

3D scanning and printing technologies have played an increasingly important role in the restoration and presentation of dinosaur skeletons in recent years. Last year, for instance, we saw evidence of this as paleontologists 3D scanned and printed the missing bones of a newly discovered species, then nicknamed “Ava”, and successfully recreated the skeleton of a Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis using 3D scanning technologies. The growing technologies, which are being used in various fields such as medicine, fashion, and engineering have begun to change the nature of fossil restoration in a big way, as we will see.

Later this month, on January 24th, BBC1 will be airing a new documentary hosted by Sir David Attenborough which will examine the process of uncovering the world’s largest known dinosaur species, the Titanosaur. The documentary, called “Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur: The Story of the Discovery of the Largest known Dinosaur”, will tell the story of the amazing uncovering of the Titanosaur’s bones, which were accidentally found in 2014 by an Argentinian shepherd, as well as the reconstruction of its skeleton, which will surely include exciting details on the use of 3D scanning. As Attenborough succinctly explains, “[the documentary is] about digging the bones up and examining what sort of animal it was and why they died in the place that they did.”

At the dig site, which was located in the Chubut Province in Patagonia, a team of paleontologists from the Egidio Feruglio Paleontology Museum in Trelew, Argentina found over 220 bones, including a 2.4 meter long femur, the largest ever found. The bones likely came from seven different dinosaurs, all belonging to the same new species of Titanosaur, which is believed to be the largest animal to ever have walked the earth. The new species is estimated to have existed approximately 101.6 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period 66.

A lead scientist on the dinosaur’s excavation, Dr. Diego Pol says of the discovery, “It was like a paleontological crime scene, a unique thing that you don’t find anywhere else in the world with the potential of discovering all kinds of new facts about titanosaurs. According to our estimates this animal weighed 70 tons…So we have discovered the largest dinosaur ever known.”

The documentary follows Attenborough as he himself follows the dinosaur’s excavation and examination over a two year period. Using state of the art digital graphics, the documentary also provides stunning images of what scientists believe the dinosaur would have looked and behaved like.

A particularly exciting feature of the film will undoubtedly be Attenborough’s witnessing and learning about the relatively new processes of 3D scanning, CGI visuals, and animation, which help scientists to visualize and understand the dinosaur’s skeletal composition and what it might reveal about the long extinct species.

In other similar cases, such as the discovery of the Dreadnoughtus in 2014, 3D scanning technologies were used in order to create an accurate and detailed digital model of the skeleton, making it easy to visualize and understand how the individual bones fit together. Having such an accurate digital model, that includes marks and muscle attachment scars that exist on the found fossils, has been extremely useful for paleontologists as the files can easily be sent to other scientific or museum institutions and they are not subject to the wear and tear that the actual bones do.

At the end of the documentary, Attenborough, along with his audience, is there to witness the unveiling of the new titanosaur’s skeleton model, which was built by the team in Argentina in collaboration with a Canadian team of model makers. The skeleton, measures an impressive 37 meters long and is sure to stun audiences around the world.

We will be sure to check out the premiere of Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur: The Story of the Discovery of the Largest known Dinosaur on the 24th to learn more and see the intricacies of 3D scanning and digitally modeling the world’s largest dinosaur. Check out the trailer below:



Posted in 3D Scanning



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