Digital archaeology reveals dinosaur details

Computer paleontology sheds light on details not available any other way

The pick and shovel can go only so far in digging up details about dinosaurs. Now supercomputers are revealing knowledge about their anatomy otherwise lost to history.

Although some lucky paleontologists manage to reconstruct complete skeletons of extinct creatures, there remains much about their anatomy that remains a mystery. For instance, while features of bones can tell one where muscles were attached, they do not tell you how long these muscles were. This can lead to startling differences in the pictures that artists draw of how the animals looked in life.

For example, if the muscles connected to the thigh bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex were short, that would suggest it was angled vertically as in humans. However, if they were very long, it could have been angled horizontally as in birds.

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