The Beauty and Benefit of Crushed Fossils

This photo an 16th century galleon in the Baltic reminded me that similar crushed fossils sometimes provide more data at a glance than first meets the eye.

Figure 1. A sunken flattened ship is like a sunken flattened pterosaur fossil. Here the lateral view is easy to see and the dorsal view can be reconstructed from the loose planks.

Figure 1. A sunken flattened ship is like a sunken flattened pterosaur fossil. Here the lateral view is easy to see and the dorsal view can be reconstructed from the loose planks.

Here is the R156 specimen of Dorygnathus about to eat a displaced femur.

Figure 2. The R 156 (Uppsala) specimen of Dorygnathus. Crushed and scattered like a sunken galleon.

Figure 2. The R 156 (Uppsala) specimen of Dorygnathus. Crushed and scattered like a sunken galleon.

And here is how the displaced ‘planks’ (in this case, phalanges) can get put back together using DGS (digital graphic segregation) techniques: colorizing the bones then moving the colors into a reconstruction, checking with PILs. A little intuition and experience also helps.

Figure 3. The disarticulate pes of Dorygnathus here reconstructed using DS into a complete pes.

Figure 3. The disarticulate pes of Dorygnathus here reconstructed using DS into a complete pes. Wondering now whether or not those metatarsals were splayed or appressed when walking. 

References
Padian K 2009. The Early Jurassic Pterosaur Dorygnathus banthenis (Theodori, 1830) and The Early Jurassic Pterosaur Campylognathoides Strand, 1928, Special Papers in Paleontology 80, Blackwell ISBN 9781405192248

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6 thoughts on “The Beauty and Benefit of Crushed Fossils

  1. THIS is what I want to see! More of this is needed…you working from pics of actual fossils. You have fossil pics you’ve taken yourself? We need to see more like this, so people can SEE DGS at work, instead of DN’s silly article’s vastly inaccurate and WAY out of date claims. I’m sharing this on Facebook. ;o)

  2. Hello Dear Mr. Peters

    Interesting post.

    I have some questions. I made this tricky image:

    ¿ How a non-specialist man difference the good “DGS” from my fake one?
    Photos can be altered, men wll make mistakes..
    Sorry I modifies the original without your permission. This not will happen in the future…

    Do you invented PILs? ¿ It´s a form of comprobation? ¿It´s a circular comprobation: DGS probes PILs and PILs probes DGS?

    I´m only asking, I don´t want to attack you or mocking you neither.

    ¿ Maybe the first step is write a scientific paper of “DGS” as a reliable source for research?

    Another one.

    ¿ How this research lab digitally “clean” this crushed fossil too?
    ¿ It is possible in pterosaurs?
    ¿It´s a sort of tridimensional digital segregation?

    And the last one:
    ¿ Do you like Adventure time?
    http://classicalguy.deviantart.com/art/TetZoo-Time-Episode-2-Comic-4-6-468404814

    I´m aware that you are very interested off your influence at the Internet.
    I do not draw this comic. I want to be very respectful with you.

    Sorry for my rude english,

    • PIls were first identified by me in:

      Peters D 2000a. Description and Interpretation of Interphalangeal Lines in Tetrapods. Ichnos, 7: 11-41.
      Peters D 2010. In defence of parallel interphalangeal lines. Historical Biology iFirst article, 2010, 1–6 DOI: 10.1080/08912961003663500

      Then used broadly in:
      Peters D 2011. A Catalog of Pterosaur Pedes for Trackmaker Identification. Ichnos 18(2):114-141. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10420940.2011.573605

      Others (Renesto, Nosotti) have also used PILs in their work. Attempts at refuting PILs have agreed with them, oddly enough, and used computer-created cylinders, rather than bones, to refute them.

      I did not see any differences between your DGS and mine in the pterosaur foot. If there were any, please point them out.

      The cartoon of King Preters is odd in that I did not attend the last symposium and thus could not have lorded over the proceedings. Just the opposite is true. If you look up references to pterosaurs and pteroids, you’ll find that my published work in JVP, Historical Biology other journals has been ignored by Witton, Hone and others. So I have very little influence on the study of pterosaurs at present. DGS is simply a technique of using a large screen instead of a tiny microscope eyepiece and a mouse instead of a pencil to draw bone shapes. Helpful to some, perhaps not for others, though it is widely practiced (e.g. any fish fossil) in the literature.

      • Interesting, very interesting!

        It´s useful to know those PILs papers.
        ¿ It´s kinda a internal proportions in all phalanx of the pes or manus?

        Yep, the altered image has only some green bit at the top of the frame. But whatever.
        DGS can be altered, not for me. I don´t want to do this anymore.

        And the Tarbosaurus skull? It´s more practical to directly ask to Witmer Lab ?

        Thanks for all, don´t care attention to the mockers

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