Skull scanning

Recently we were visited by Dr Aki Watanabe a Research Associate at University College London (UCL). Dr Watanabe used a handheld 3D surface scanner to create accurate models of four well preserved fossil skulls in our collection: an ichthyosaur and a crocodile from our lower Jurassic Strawberry Bank Lagerstätte, an as yet underscribed new species of Jurassic crocodile collected from a railway cutting in Wiltshire, and Risso’s Dolphin from Twerton. The scans will be analysed using a quantitative analysis of form known as morphometrics. Essentialy they will become data points in a study that aims to answer the following questions: ‘What are the drivers of skull and brain evolution?’ and ‘How do we quantify and analyze the shape of biological structures?’. In more technical terms Dr Wakanabe is “using the reconstructions to collect landmark-based geometric morphometrics and analyzing morphological disparity, evolutionary rates, and patterns of cranial modularity.”
It’s great to know that the collection we care fore and promote continues to be utilised to answer big questions using the most advanced research approaches. You can find more about Dr Watanabe’s research here:

Curator's Notes