3D Digitization Workshop

This week I was lucky enough to have attended a workshop titled “3D Digitization of Fossils for Educators and Citizen Scientists”, organized by Claudia Grant. This workshop was attended by K12 teachers, researchers, and paleo club members, from all over the US. Justy and I were asked to give two half hour demos on using the Nextengine Surface Scanner, which took place on Monday and Tuesday morning. Overall, everyone was very receptive to our demos and many people had great ideas on how to take surface scanning a step further. I also attended many talks between the two days, all of which were incredibly interesting and insightful.  I learned about various 3D programs, 3D printing, and how to incorporate this technology into the classroom. A high school student named Sage, who attends a school in California in which Paleo lessons led by UF researchers have been taught, talked about how he was affected by these lessons and the use of 3D printed models during them. I think this was the most powerful talk of all because it gave the educators and researchers insight as to how to create a lasting effect on young people.

Myself navigating ScanStudio on the projector, as Justy describes what I'm doing.

Nextengine Surface Scanning Demo         (Photo courtesy of Dawn Mitchell).

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NextEngine challenges in all their 3 dimensional glory

In preparation for a presentation Andrea and I will do at the upcoming 3D Digitization of Fossils for Educators & Citizen Scientists workshop next week, we have been practicing using the surface scanner and picking out fun, simple specimens to use for a demonstration. In doing so, we were also able to practice dealing with some of the real world challenges in surface scanning. For those not attending the conference, I’ll save you from missing out on this portion of the talk. Continue reading

Fossil Friday 5/29/15: An oreodont humerus


The humerus of a merycoidodontid oreodont. The distal end is toward the left and the proximal end is toward the right. The humeral head has been damaged, however the distal end, which forms a joint like our elbow, remains intact. (Photo © Rachel Narducci)

This Fossil Friday I’m presenting an oreodont humerus that was prepared by PCP PIRE preparator Rachel Narducci. Continue reading

A Guide to Digital Paleontology


Museum intern Justy Alicea (left) and SMIF technician Jimmy Thostenson set up the CT scanner using a live X-ray image of teeth inside the scanner. (Photo courtesy of Andrea De Renzis)

[This is the unabridged version of museum interns Andrea De Renzis and Justy Alicea’s April 2015 eNewsletter article.]

Traditional specimen-based research in paleontology sometimes requires destructive sampling in order to obtain measurements of features to identify specimens or understand ancient environments. Micro-CT scanning uses x-rays to create high-resolution virtual slices that, when layered together, form a three dimensional model that can be manipulated and measured. These digital models can also be shared with other researchers, educators, and the public, giving more people access to fragile, rare, or scientifically valuable fossils. Continue reading

Update on BioMuseo Adventures


The fruits of Jorge Moreno Bernal‘s labor at Lake Alajuela. Two crocodile teeth, a ray tooth (both bottom-right), and a possible mammalian pelvis or shoulder plate.

In a previous post, Jeremy told us of some of the many exciting things that have been happening in the field as of late.  Lake Alajuela is proven to be not only a very beautiful field site, but fruitful as well; we hope to continue prospecting and discovering there!  In this post, however, I want to talk a little bit more about our work outside the field.

We only have about three weeks left in Panama, and there are many things that we still want to get done.  Creating a narrative for the BioMuseo is one of our main priorities, and there is still much to do.  As promised, today I will give an update on how things are going with our work with the BioMuseo. Continue reading

Digital Paleontology

Diagram of how CT scanning works. (courtesy of Imaginis.com)

I think many people these days are familiar with CT scanning, or its cousin, the MRI, even more so. But many probably don’t know how it works. Using x-rays shot thru an object in successive slices, a layer by layer analysis of a structure can be performed. When stacked together, these images can digitally reconstruct an object and its insides.

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Una breve historia geológica de Panamá

(in English)

IMG_0588Según nos hemos enterado, el grupo de visitantes de la Universidad de Florida acaba de regresar de su visita en Panamá; durante el cual pasamos mucho tiempo buscando fósiles en el canal. ¡Los pasantes del museo probaron por primera vez el sol de Panamá!  El viaje salió muy bien, y muchos fósiles fueron descubiertos. Continue reading

Spring Interns in the news.

Journalist Irlanda Sotillo and Photographer Maydeé Romero Sprang recently visited the DSC_0123Center for Tropical Paleoecology and Archeology (CTPA) of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), and met the PCP-PIRE field interns. We told Irlanda about the field activities in the canal area and showed her several samples recently collected by the interns. Continue reading