Wednesday, February 20, 2008

VIDEO: Nicole in 3D - CT scans of our favorite lysorophus

Recently, David wrote about the perils of being married to a paleontologist - mainly, that paleontologists tend to name things they discover after their loved ones. Sounds great! Some fossils - like Sue or Stan - are known all over the world. They're so famous, they only need one name - kind of like Cher. Who wouldn't want to be immortalized as a fossil?

Well...not every fossil is T. rex. And David's find happened to have some particularly unattractive characteritics as a species. If you missed it, check it out here and let us know what you would have done in his shoes.

In this case, David's wife now has the honor of giving her name to a particularly well-preserved lysorophus. And, the lovely people of MD Anderson were kind enough to give us a look at the inside of this fascinating fossil, through the use of the computed tomography (CT) scanning in their small animal imaging facility.

The cloudy red area you see in this video is the rock surrounding the fossil itself. The more defined, lighter sections show the fossil itself. As the image rotate, you can see the ribs and spine curling around. In life, it would have looked something like a pile of coiled rope, with each coil resting on the one under it. Stretched out, Nicole would have been about 18 - 20 inches long.

A Lysorophus closes in on its prey. (c) Robert T. Bakker

You can also see an vertical oval outline protruding from the main coil - it starts on the right, rolls around to the left, and then ends at the right again, it will be on the right of your screen. According to David, this is probably the skull.
Even cooler, this next video is in 3D - if you've got the red and blue glasses, this should pop right off the screen.


Advqnced 3D Imaging and Movies courtesy of:
Luc Bidaut, PhD.
Director, Image Processing & Visualization Lab (IPVL) UT - M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX
lbidaut [at]
Computed tomography (CT) performed in the Small Animal Imaging Facility (SAIF), UT-MDACC