Virtual palaeontology is the study of three-dimensional fossils on computer. Such digital reconstructions can be produced in a number of different ways, and have many applications. Although the techniques involved are at the centre of an ongoing revolution in palaeontology, and are now widely used, there has not previously been any single text discussing the relative merits of each approach, or guiding palaeontologists through the decisions involved in designing a virtual palaeontology workflow.
Techniques for Virtual Paleontology represents just such a comprehensive overview, providing discussions of underlying theory, applications, historical development, details of practical methodologies, and case studies. Techniques covered include physical-optical tomography (serial sectioning), focused ion beam tomography, all forms of X-ray CT, neutron tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, optical tomography, laser scanning, and photogrammetry. Visualization techniques and data/file formats are also discussed in detail.
1 Introduction and History 1
2 Destructive Tomography 14
3 Non-Destructive Tomography 41
4 Surface-Based Methods 115
5 Digital Visualization 130
6 Applications beyond Visualization 165
7 Summary 177
Mark Sutton is a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College, London, UK specializing in Palaeozoic invertebrate palaeobiology and in three-dimensional visualization techniques. He is the primary author of the SPIERS software suite for palaeontological 3D reconstruction.
Imran Rahman is a Research Fellow at The University of Bristol, UK. He specializes in the origin and early evolution of echinoderms, and uses virtual palaeontology to study the form and function of fossil taxa.
Russell Garwood is an 1851 Royal Commission Research Fellow based at The University of Manchester, UK. He uses X-ray techniques to study fossils, primarily early terrestrial arthropods. He is the secondary author of the SPIERS software suite.