Footprint formation and interpreting fossil dinosaur tracks

Keywords: Dinosaur; footprint; simulation; imaging.

Research Outline

We seek to understand the origin and functional significance of Mesozoic track diversity by exploring disparate specimens in the historic Hitchcock Ichnology Collection at the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College. We integrate living bird experiments (XROMM: X-ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology) and substrate simulations (DEM: Discrete Element Method) to reveal important interactions among anatomy, motion, and sediment properties governing footprint formation. Volumetric DEM models of guineafowl tracks in varying substrates serve as reference for interpreting and iteratively simulating specific specimens from the Connecticut Valley and Greenland.



Other Projects from the Palaeontology Group

Footprints in the sand

X-rays, 3D animation and human locomotion

We use biplanar X-ray, 3D animation and computer simulation methods to understand the complex interactions between foot and substrate through which footprints are created. These innovative methods provide a novel toolkit for using a rapidly expanding record of hominin footprints to evaluate prominent hypotheses regarding the evolution of human bipedalism

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