Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

HANGZHOU, China, October 11, 2021 / PRNewswire / – A skeleton of a young dinosaur from the early Jurassic period, about 190 million years ago, was discovered in September in Lufeng, Yunnan Province, China. Its excavation has been reported by China Central Television (CCTV) in its 7-day live broadcast “Return to the Jurassic Period-Yunnan Lufeng Dinosaur Fossil Scientific Excavation”. Scantech ( was honored to be invited to participate in digital 3D scanning and restoration of the dinosaur.

With Scantech’s 3D scanner TrackScan, we captured textures and 3D data from dinosaur fossils accurately. A fossil model was then created for exhibition thanks to 3D modeling and printing. With a 3D-printed dinosaur skeleton, scientists and scientists can deduce the morphological evolution of Lufengosaurus, which lived 190 million years ago.

The live broadcast shows our commitment to the mission at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15) scheduled for 11thOctober 2021. It highlights the theme COP 15 “Ecological Civilization: Building a Common Future for All Life on Earth”.

Dinosaurs in China

Lufeng County in the southwest China Yunnan Province is known as the “hometown of dinosaurs”. An almost intact dinosaur skeleton was discovered there and named “Lufengosaurus” by Yang Zhongjian (CC Young), the founder of vertebrate paleontology in China in 1938. It is the first dinosaur that was assembled and mounted for display in China.

The dinosaur fossils reported this time were uncovered after heavy rain washed up the area and were first spotted by some villagers. Paleontologists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Local Dinosaur Fossil Protection Center have been sent to the field to conduct skeletal studies. Follow the steps of CCTV, let’s explore the mysterious prehistoric world.

3D scanning helps interpret the old story

At the excavation site, archaeological workers carried out the entire process of rescue work from excavation, restoration, cleaning, protection to presentation. Scantech helped archaeologists accurately retrieve 3D data from Lufengosaurus and recover them digitally. In this way, Scantech had the opportunity to contribute to the protection of biodiversity, as proposed by COP15.

During the process of 3D scanning and restoration, Scantech var faces various challenges:

  • The changing lighting conditions outdoors, especially strong sunlight, cause problems such as overexposure.
  • In addition, the bone structure of this 8-meter dinosaur is damaged, resulting in numerous textures after hundreds of millions of years of weathering.
  • Since the fossils are rare and precise, it is required that operations can not cause any damage to the fossils. All of these challenges were overcome with our high-tech 3D scanner.

A Scantech technician brought our portable and independently developed TrackScan 3D system to the excavation site and performed 3D scanning on site. Thanks to automatic and intelligent optical tracking and non-contact measurement, Scantech helped 3D scan the fossils without putting markers.

With a scan speed of up to 1.9 million times per second, Scantech quickly obtained all the 3D data from dinosaur fossils. All textures and intricate details of the dinosaur fossils were captured with an accuracy of 0.025 mm. Our technician also scanned several dinosaur fossils of the same genus that had been excavated before to model the missing bones.

3D scanning and printing brings lufengosaurus back to life digitally

This is the first time that 3D scanning and printing has been adopted in China for excavating dinosaurs. With a portable 3D laser scanner, Scantech supported researchers to capture accurate 3D data on fossils, including cracks and textures formed during fossilization.

The data was then converted to a 3D model so we can appreciate the dinosaur’s original appearance.

Before the emergency of 3D printing, it is difficult for scientists to restore a 1: 1-size dinosaur skeleton. The manual modeling process is expensive and time consuming, and it cannot be done without compromising on the original fossils that have been discovered. The excavated dinosaur is known to be 8 meters long and 3 meters high. It has about 300 bones in different sizes and shapes, with a volume of almost 30 cubic meters and a weight of 3000-5000 kg.

Despite the challenges it poses, every detail of the fossils, even subtle cracks, was truly restored through 3D scanning. At the same time, the latest light-sensitive resin with high tensile strength was used as a printing material for 3D printing in full scale. The printed model of the dinosaur skeleton is only about 300 kg.

It took only 20 days to create this 8 meter long dinosaur model from 3D scanning to 3D printing for the exhibition of lufengosaurus at COP15. These technologies contribute to scientific research so that it can be more accurate and effective. This is a way to digitize and modernize workflows for archaeological excavation.

The importance of 3D digitization of dinosaur fossils

With the accurate 3D-printed dinosaur model, archaeological workers can intuitively observe the dinosaur’s appearance and obtain more information for further investigation. They will study its life, its relationship to other dinosaurs and its habitat.

In addition, 3D digitization can be used for site protection, research and restoration of paleontological fossils as well as modeling, display to museums and so on.

The 3D digitization of lufengosaurus through 3D scanning presents amazing and interesting AR images for an intuitive and interesting experience for the audience.

Interpret old mystery to build a common future

Dinosaur fossils enable us to explore the past, present and future of evolution on Earth. New technologies such as 3D scanning and 3D printing also place great emphasis on exploring this world. In the meantime, thanks to the efforts of scientists and experts, we were able to embark on a scientific journey to explore the prehistoric world 200 million years ago.

The mysterious messages that the earth has sent support us to learn more about biodiversity. Scantech would explore several unexpected mysteries with you about writing a new chapter in the digital age.

For more cases on biological conservation and archaeological research, please read:
Protecting cultural heritage with the help of 3D technologies
To be an animal protector of 3D Technologies
How can a 3D scanner help make prostheses for a seagull?

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