Friday, August 21, 2015

3D Animation of Pterosaur Entertains and Educates at Toledo Zoo

In 2009 Julia Molnar, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University brought us a set of bone castings from a well preserved pterosaur skeleton. For her masters thesis project, Ms. Molnar was studying the way in which pterosaurs would have taken flight. Very little is known about their launch sequence, and how such an enormous creature could vault into the sky without dragging its giant wings along the ground.

To discern how this might be possible, Ms. Molnar needed the following: to digitize the cast pieces, assemble correctly into a complete skeleton, and help formulate the 3D motion sequence for the ancient creature within the computer.The final result was a 3D animation showing the proposed sequence.

We often say that you should scan everything because you never know when you'll need the 3D data and the pterosaur skeleton animation is a perfect example of that.

Several years after we completed the project the Toledo Zoo added a pterosaur section to their reptile exhibit and they were looking for some way to show how the giant creatures would have flown. The launch sequence video was a perfect fit for their exhibit and the video is now being shown to the nearly million visitors that the zoo has each year.