Its been a busy few days. Last week I flew to Houston (Texas), to give a keynote lecture at the SPAR meeting....here is where dinosaurs and lasers collide!
SPAR is a meeting that runs in the USA, Europe and Japan, that explores the development and application of lasers... predominantly to surveying. Long gone are the days of chain or plane-table surveys and in with the lasers.
Whilst many use lasers to scan refineries or sediment package geometry of hydrocarbon reservoirs...my group have a passion for laser scanning dinosaurs....of the skeletal variety. Combined with the liberal application of various software packages, we are now able to scan, 'volumize' (nothing to do with hair) and measure how fat our dinosaurs once were....or how thin, depending on the wrapping formulae we use to skin our dinosaurs.
Why should we worry about the body mass of dinosaurs? Well, this is one of those parameters that can make you an Olympic 100 Metre sprinter...or a 6-pack couch potato (in this case the 6-pack has nothing to do with abdominal musculature and more to do with brewers yeast). Body-mass really matters, as this strongly correlates with locomotor ability and all manner of key functions that define the ecology and behavior of beasties long past....such as the skeleton of Brachiosaurus (above) captured using a Z+F LiDAR scanner when we were working in Berlin the other year.
So, the next time you spot a 'surveyor' in a museum....capturing a mounted skeleton in all its glorious 3 dimensions....just pinch them and check that they are not a paleontologist digitally kidnapping and weighing a dinosaur!