Don't miss this 3D dinosaur chase!
Remember some of the dinosaur chase scenes from the "Jurassic Park" series?
Scientists have now reconstructed in 3D a real dinosaur chase that happened more than 100 million years ago.
About 112 million years ago, a long-necked sauropod dinosaur traversed a trackway in an area what is now Glen Rose, Texas.
A meat-eating theropod followed him, overlaying some of the sauropod's footprints with its own.
Now, researchers have reconstructed the entire 148-feel-long trackway using old photography and new technology.
"It is great to get so many stride lengths, so many depths and impressions," said study researcher Peter Falkingham, a research fellow at Royal Veterinary College in London.
There is all this data you can get from an animal moving over quite a long distance, he added.
The sauropod and theropod prints comprise one of the most famous sequences from the site.
In 1940, fossil collector Roland T. Bird excavated the tracks.
Falkingham and his colleagues analysed Bird's 70-year-old photos with a technique called photogrammetry, which allows researchers to determine where the camera was when the photo was taken.
By melding views from different camera angles, the team created a digital model of the trackway with 3D depth.
The resulting image is detailed enough that the dinosaurs' toe prints can be seen at the south end of the trackway.
The 3D reconstruction has already solved one long-running mystery.
When Bird excavated the tracks, he drew two maps of the prints, one showing a fairly straight path, and the other with a slight curve to the left.
By overlaying the reconstruction with the maps, Falkingham and his colleagues showed the left-curving map was the more accurate one.
The 3D model allows researchers to study depth and weight distribution for each of the dinosaurs, which helps determine how the animals walked and how fast they were going.
The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
(Posted on 03-04-2014)