Abstract by Brandon Theurer
Honey, I Didn’t Blow Up the Bones: Using micro computed tomography to extract 3D digital renderings of drepanosaur bones from the Saints and Sinners Quarry
Traditional fossil preparation involves mechanical removal of rock matrix from around a bone. For small bones, like those from the Saints and Sinners Quarry in the Triassic Nugget Sandstone of northeastern Utah, this process often results in irreparable damage and only exposes one side of the fragile bones. Digital segmentation of micro CT images is an alternative that yields great benefits. The scan voxel resolution is less than 15 micrometers, so that once segmented, bones can be enlarged to reveal great detail. Such detail is crucial for the Saints and Sinners Quarry drepanosaur as it represents a previously unknown species and demonstrates sexual dimorphism among drepanosaurs. Details such as pneumatic fossae on the vertebrae, skull elements, a chevron articulated with the ischium, and details of the large manual claw on digit II have been clearly imaged with this method. Digital preparation also allows all sides to be seen, since nothing is needed to support the bone. Buried bones can also be prepared without the destruction of articulated material above them. Segmentation of micro CT scans provides incredible benefits for the study of such small fossils.