Paleontologists have used a micro-CT scanner and 3D printing to reconstruct a herbivorous hypsilophodont dinosaur that lived in Australia during the Early Cretaceous epoch, more than 100 million years ago.
The opalized remains of a hypsilophodont dinosaur were found in 2019 at Lightning Ridge, a unique and historic opal mining town in New South Wales, Australia.
The fossiliferous layers at Lighting Ridge belong to an extensive geological unit called the Griman Creek Formation.
This sequence of rock ranges in age from 96 to 110 million years old (Cretaceous period).
The Australian continent, at that time, would have still been attached to Antarctica and resided much farther south, within the modern Antarctic Circle.
“Fossils from Lightning Ridge are often preserved as colorless and valueless potch or common opal,” said Dr. Paul Willis, a paleontologist at Flinders University.
“Occasionally they can be composed of precious opal, including the prized black opal, and can be exceeding high in value.”
“But all fossil specimens are ‘priceless’ to paleontologists and using the latest technology will take much of the guesswork out of understanding the ancient animal’s story.”
Dr. Willis and his colleagues used the Flinders CT Scanning Facility at Tonsley to look inside lumps of rock that contain the dinosaur remains.
“Recent scans of some of the pieces salvaged by opal miners at Lightning Ridge show that the bone inside is preserved in exquisite detail and the process has already begun of 3D printing the most interesting specimens,” Dr. Willis said.
“Not only do the scans allow us to better understand exactly what we have as a dinosaur skeleton, they will be an invaluable aid to the next stage of studying this specimen, by removing the surrounding rock.”
“Prior to using scans on specimens like this, the removal of surrounding rock was very much a case of ‘doing in blind,’ feeling our way in to reveal the bones.”
“Now we can do that with more confidence because we know where the rock stops and the bone starts.”
“With only around 20% of the specimens scanned so far, this project has a way to go before the preparation process can begin.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/paleontology/opalized-dinosaur-fossils-11144.html