How do you use the computer to make dinosaur bones?
We have used 21st century technology to capture
a 65 million-year-old animal! The original bones have been laser
scanned in three dimensions to record them in the highest detail.
If we want a bone that is exactly like the one we scanned, we
send the data to a three-dimensional prototyping machine that
outputs a hard copy, just like a printer will print a document
for you exactly as it appears in your computer. But we can also
manipulate these data to give us something bigger, smaller,
or a mirror-image.
So what computer-generated replacements are in
the new skeleton?
Both the skull and the left upper arm bone, the
humerus, in the original skeleton were too small for the rest
of the animal. We had the prototyping machines make bigger ones
for us. The left shoulder blade and the left part of the hip
bone had been sculpted for the original skeleton. So we scanned
the right side original bones, mirror-imaged the data to give
us lefthanded elements, and had the prototyping machine make
them for us. We made molds of these prototypes and then cast
each of them out of plaster and fiberglass just like the other