Convex Hull Mass Estimation


One of the most important things palaeobiologists need to know about fossilised animals is how much they weighed. This is surprisingly difficult and we have been testing a new approach. We laser scanned various large mammal skeletons including polar bear, giraffe and elephant and calculated the minimum wrapping volume of the main skeletal sections. We showed that the actual volume is reliably ~20% more than this value. We then laser scanned the Berlin Giraffatitan skeleton (aka Brachiosaurus), calculated the wrapping volume, added 20%, and calculated that it weighed 23 tonnes, supporting the modern view that these animals were much lighter than traditionally thought.

To help others we have made the point cloud data used in the project available. You can browse the data here.
Please be aware that these files are large and that you will need a program such as the freely available Meshlab to view the files.