Sauro-throat, Part 2: Dolly in 3D

February 14, 2022

Okay, this is cool: with the help of Ryan Ridgely, my coauthor* Larry Witmer used the CT scans of the two best infected vertebrae of Dolly to create 3D models, which are now viewable on Sketchfab. (See the announcement post about Dolly here, and our open-access paper on her pathological vertebrae here.)

*Yes, it is super-awesome to have Larry as a coauthor, after almost a quarter-century of admiring his work and standing on his shoulders.

The lesions are pretty subtle, and I intend to update this post with screenshots of the models with the infected bone highlighted, but I didn’t want to hold up getting the models out. UPDATE a couple of hours later: Cary kindly gave me a hand figuring out which bits of the vertebrae are infected. It’s not super-obvious at the resolution of these models, and not all of the infected bone is bubbling outward like cauliflower. More information is coming! Also, I tagged the vertebrae with their serial positions. C7 is in front of C6 because that’s how they went through the CT scanner. 

We’ve deliberately been a bit vague about what, exactly, Dolly is, beyond a diplodocid from the Morrison Formation of Montana. The answer is that Cary Woodruff is leading a team on a very well-illustrated monographic description of Dolly, which will be along in due time. So expect even more goodies in the future. Follow Cary on Twitter (@DoubleBeam, a reference to Diplodocus) for updates on all kinds of interesting stuff.

In the meantime, go have fun with the new toys!



3 Responses to “Sauro-throat, Part 2: Dolly in 3D”

  1. Mike Taylor Says:

    This post is an advert for the necessity of looking at actual fossils. Even with these excellent 3D models and even with the highlighted guides to what I am supposed to be looking at, I can find the lesions only in a bigfootish sort of a way.

  2. […] on Dolly, the diplodocid with lesions in its neck vertebrae (see previous posts on Dolly here and here). I was also intellectually excited, not only to see air-filled bones with obvious pathologies, but […]

  3. Mickey Mortimer Says:

    In response to Mike, I was going to make almost the opposite point. Obviously, it depends on what you’re doing with the specimen. If it’s pathology or histology or isotope ratios, it becomes increasingly important to look at the actual fossil. But if you’re doing comparative anatomy or scoring for a matrix, models like these provide a large portion of the data you need. Certainly more than paper media could. And sure depending on the fidelity of your model there are fine details that first hand inspection is necessary for, but you only get to see the real thing for a very limited time in almost all cases. Given the chance to see a specimen and take several photos or to have a 3D model like this on my hard drive, I would choose the latter.

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