Application of high-resolution laser scanning and photogrammetric techniques to data acquisition, analysis and interpretation in palaeontology

K. T. Bates, P. L. Falkingham, F. Rarity, D. Hodgetts, A. Purslow, P. L. Manning

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Integrated laser scanning and photogrammetry - remote methods of collecting three dimensional (3D) spatial and geometrical data - has to-date been under-utilized in palaeontology. Laser scanning provides a dense point cloud that represents a precisely sampled replica of an object's surface geometry. Integrating a digital camera into the scanning unit allows photographic images to be combined with these point clouds to produce interactive photo-realistic 3D models. The Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) also built into the unit provides sub-metre global position information and allows data to be integrated with other georeferenced datasets. As a non-invasive method of attaining geometrically precise 3D digital models, these techniques enable palaeontologists to explore fossils and fossil sites on the desktop where an exceptional level of visualization can be combined with analytical facilities unique to the digital environment. 3D geological mapping using integrated laser scanning and photogrammetry has provided the necessary framework for interpretation of fossiliferous localities in the context of their 3D sedimentary facies, improving understanding of the stratigraphic and palaeoenvironmental context of fossil sites. High-resolution photo-realistic models also offer remote interactive access through virtual fieldtrips, and may contribute significantly to conservation and education at palaeontological heritage sites. Building on its use to model the 3D geometry of fossil dinosaur tracks, we have also recently used laser scanning to digitize skeletal mounts of theropod dinosaurs, producing scale models that have been used to examine the mass, inertial properties and locomotor mechanics of these animals.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)68-73
    Number of pages5
    JournalInternational Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences - ISPRS Archives
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Dinosaur
    • Geology
    • Laser scanning
    • Modelling
    • Palaeontology
    • Photogrammetry


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