Three-Dimensional Reconstruction of a Stegosaurus Dorsal Plate and an Alligator Scute

Document Type

Poster Session

Presentation Date


Conference Name

130th Annual Meeting

Conference Location

Indiana Academy of Science

Inclusive pages



Three dimensional models of the dorsal plates of the thyreophoran dinosaur Stegosaurus and the osteoderms of an extant alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) were constructed utilizing 3D vision technology to study the potential vascular structures for the dermal ossifications of both species. 3D (stereoscopic) vision devices, which present two different images of a 3D object capture from the same projection plane, allow users to perceive depth from a rendered scene that is natural and intuitive to comprehend when compared with a 3D object rendered on a traditional 2D screen.

A system was developed that displays surface models of the each structure's exterior and the possible soft tissue areas of the interior. Cross section images were created from volumetric CT scan images, which had potential soft tissue areas highlighted using SPIERS software. The segmented volumetric data sets were transformed into triangular meshes using the Marching Cubes Algorithm. Phong shading was applied to the triangular meshes providing a surface model view from the CT scan images. The system superimposes two computer-generated surface models and a cross section image on two different viewpoints to render a stereoscopic view of the Stegosaurus dorsal plate and the American Alligator scute. The system provides several interactive data analysis tools which enable users to navigate the dermal plates of Stegosaurus in virtual spaces from various directions, locate the slicing plane for cross section images, and magnify areas of interest. The system allows users to analyze internal structures of fossils while referencing associated exterior surface models and cross-sectional images in stereoscopic vision. The models of the Stegosaurus dorsal plate and alligator scute allow users to visualize soft tissue/vascular areas that could have facilitated blood flow between the osteoderm and the animals’ interior, possibly allowing for thermal regulation.


Earth Sciences

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