On the News | USA | Palaeontologists are using 3D mapping to piece together dinosaur bones @ Wired

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Palaeontologists are using 3D mapping to piece together dinosaur bones

Emma Bryce


Kenneth Lacovara
Image Credit: Benedict Evans

“When Kenneth Lacovara spotted bones poking out of the soil in the Patagonian Desert in 2005, he didn’t think much of it. Then he began to dig. Lacovara and his team had stumbled across a two-metre-long femur, the leg bone of one of the largest land dinosaurs ever discovered. The findings marked the beginning of a four-year excavation, which unearthed 145 bones from a 26-metre-long skeleton. Lacovara christened the dinosaur Dreadnoughtus schrani, which means “fears nothing”. “It’s mind-boggling to lie in the desert next to a femur that’s two metres long and imagine the creature that was attached,” says the 55-year-old.

A palaeontologist based at Rowan University in New Jersey, Lacovara studies the Cretaceous Period and its dinosaurs – preferably the largest ones. “My wife says when I’m looking for my keys in the morning that I study big dinosaurs because I can’t find anything smaller,” he jokes. Case in point: the Dreadnoughtus, a 65-tonne herbivorous titanosaur, which probably roamed South America about 77 million years ago. “It’s as heavy as a Boeing 737. It’s staggering to imagine that these things were real. I’ve never quite got over that.”

Lacovara’s search for the planet’s largest creatures has taken him on digs in Patagonia, Mongolia and North Africa. He’s known for his discovery of Paralititan, another huge titanosaur, in Egypt, and Suzhusauraus, a clawed creature with wing-like arms, in the Gobi Desert. But Dreadnoughtus remains his most celebrated discovery. “A 65-tonne Dreadnoughtus defending its territory in breeding season would have been a ridiculously hazardous animal to be around. It harked back to the dreadnoughts [20th-century British warships] so I gave it that name.” At his lab at Rowan, Lacovara is using 3D modelling and repurposed medical technologies to reveal how this ancient behemoth lumbered across Earth.” (…) READ MORE

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Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)