Paleontologists from the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History are working towards reconstructing the anatomy of missing bones of a juvenile Apatosaurus. With approximately only 15% of the bones collected, scientists look to digitally reconstruct the rest of the bone structure using the model of the adult Apatosaurus currently on display in the Museum. Reverse engineering the large skeleton would be the best solution.
The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is home to one of most extensive paleontology collections of prehistoric specimens. Much of the scientific research for the museum is conducted by the Center for Shape Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (SEAM). SEAM is a multi-university collaboration that has pooled together engineering resources to focus on creating and disseminating innovation. As one of SEAM’s members, the University of Oklahoma has been recently working with the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in a very unique application.
The paleontologists of the museum were tasked to reconstruct the anatomy of a juvenile Apatosaurus. Since only 15% of the bones had been collected, the remaining fossils would have to be anatomically created by the team of scientists. Traditionally, sculpting clay models by hand has always been common practice. However, using this process is extremely time consuming, often inaccurate and highly irreproducible.
As part of SEAM the University of Oklahoma assisted the museum’s paleontologists by providing an alternative solution. The university’s objective was to provide individual prototypes of each individual bone of the juvenile Apatosaurus for the paleontologists to create castings for the display model. The team decided to reverse engineer the current adult Apatosaurus skeletal model so they could proportionally create the missing bones of the juvenile dinosaur.