6. Applications Beyond Visualization

  1. Mark D. Sutton1,
  2. Imran A. Rahman2 and
  3. Russell J. Garwood3

Published Online: 1 NOV 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118591192.ch6

Techniques for Virtual Palaeontology

Techniques for Virtual Palaeontology

How to Cite

Sutton, M. D., Rahman, I. A. and Garwood, R. J. (eds) (2013) Applications Beyond Visualization, in Techniques for Virtual Palaeontology, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118591192.ch6

Editor Information

  1. 1

    Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK

  2. 2

    School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Bristol, UK

  3. 3

    School of Materials/School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 NOV 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 NOV 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118591130

Online ISBN: 9781118591192



  • geometric morphometrics;
  • dental microwear texture analysis;
  • computer modelling;
  • palaeobiomechanics;
  • finite-element analysis;
  • multibody dynamics analysis;
  • body-size estimation;
  • computational fluid dynamics


Virtual fossils have great value as a means of quantifying form and function, and can be used to address a number of different questions in palaeontology. Geometric morphometrics uses topologically homologous landmark points on digital reconstructions to characterize shape variation among fossils (e.g. vertebrate skulls). Dental microwear texture analysis measures microscopic wear patterns on digitized tooth surfaces; this can help reconstruct dietary preferences, for example, in fossil mammals. Several computer modelling methods have proven useful for palaeobiomechanics. Finite-element analysis reconstructs stress and strain in virtual reconstructions of skulls during biting. Multibody dynamics analysis is a method for simulating jaw movements, which can be applied to extinct species. Body-size estimation utilizes computer models to estimate the dimensions of vertebrates, including dinosaurs. Finally, computational fluid dynamics simulates fluid flow (air or water) past fossils, informing on their aero- or hydrodynamics.