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Friday, 12 February 2010

Cretaceous Reptiles in Hawkes Bay

Over the last few days I have been with a GNS Science team exploring the remote Mangahouanga Stream in inland Hawkes Bay. This is the area that is famous for the discoveries of dinosaur and other reptile remains by Joan Wiffen (who died in June last year) and her team. It is on private land, deep in the forest and therefore rarely visited. Bones of marine reptiles seem to be relatively common in the hard concretions in the stream bed, but land dwelling dinosaur remains are very rare as they were washed some distance into the sea and separated before being buried in the sediments . An example of a therapod dinosaur toe bone, discovered by Joan Wiffen can be seen as a 3D image here

On the way to explore the river we passed the two expedition huts used by Joan's team . In the picture are Mike Wylde and Tunis Keenan, two Royal Society Primary Teacher Fellows being hosted by GNS Science this year.


After following a rough track through the bush, we reached the Mangahouanga Stream. In several of the large boulders we could see bone remnants. In this picture there is a large vertebra (backbone segment) of an unknown species of reptile. If you look carefully at the top of the rock in the right foreground you might see an oval shaped brown lump which is another similar vertebra.

Here John Simes (GNS Science palaeontology collections manager) and Pete Shaw (forestry manager) check out a rock slab containing shells, sharks teeth and fish bones.
Have a look at our video of fossil hunting in Mangahouanga Stream:


ray.merchant said...

Hi Julian

How did you create the cool rotatable feature for Joans fossil please. What software created it

ray.merchant said...
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jules said...

Hi Ray - You are referring to the images on our website at
Here are the technical details:
The 3D scan was created using a laser scanner called NextEngine Desktop 3D Scanner. It captures a 2D still photograph, and then, using a bunch of lasers, captures the topography of the object, after which it overlays the colour photo with the laser topography to recreate the surface and colour of the object. You can either scan a single shot, 3-image shot, or a 360 deg shot of an item, where you can control for the lens (macro/wide), exposure and quality of scan (standard definition to HD). The software it uses is called ScanStudio, and this is where, in the case of images composing of more than one shot, you can align your parts of the model, brush them up (e.g., remove unwanted parts, etc.), and seal them together to form a water-tight model of the whole object. You can then export the file as an OBJ format, and using Adobe Acrobat versions 8 or higher, you can create a PDF of your 3D model. We've been able to scan objects as small as 4cm to as large as 35cm (the latter was done by scanning the object in 2 halves and then aligning them together).