3D scanners just erased two species of dinosaur from history

What were once thought to be three separate types of Psittacosaurus — or "parrot lizard" — have now been confirmed to be simply differing examples of the same species. In coming to this new conclusion, scientists employed a new type of 3D imaging called "three-dimensional geometric morphometrics."

The technique utilizes lasers to generate highly detailed data about fossil samples. Numerous specimens are scanned and then compared. What outed the two non-extant dino species was the presence of some very specific anatomical locations, called "landmarks." Thirty skulls were examined in this manner, with the results showing that they were not in fact three separate species, but were all examples of P. lujiatunensis.

This is the first time such a cutting edge 3D scanner has been brought to bear in the study of dinosaur fossils. That means that other related species might just fall out of the history books before long. Triceratops for instance, has been under a bit of scrutiny as of late. 3D geometric morphometrics, on the other hand, has a bright future ahead of it — not only in the realm of paleontology, but across a number of medical fields as well.

Plos One, via Phys.org

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