27 Computer-Based Reconstruction: Technical Aspects and Applications

  • Lilian Ulhaas
Reference work entry


Reconstruction plays a crucial part in working with fossils. A new aspect of reconstruction has been introduced by recent advances in 3D technology: the digital reconstruction of real objects. With the assistance of various computer-based techniques, such as surface scanning or computed tomography (CT), digital object data can be acquired and processed. Computer-based methods have in common that they are nondestructive as the handling of the fossil takes place within the computerized environment only. This aspect alone is of great advantage in comparison to conventional reconstruction and measuring techniques. Additionally, when reconstructing a fossil digitally, all steps are comprehensible and can be reversed.

With the assistance of a new methodological inventory, much additional information can now be derived from fossil specimens. Medical imaging techniques enable the visualization of internal morphological structures, formerly inaccessible for morphometric and biomechanical analysis. Furthermore, quantitative computer-based measurements are reproducible, as all measuring points on the digital objects can be saved.

This chapter gives a brief introduction to state-of-the-art techniques for 3D data acquisition and computer-based data analysis. Some applications in paleoanthropological research are presented to demonstrate that 3D technology has become an indispensable tool, complementing classical methods in physical anthropology.


Semicircular Canal Compute Tomography Number Geometric Morphometrics Pattern Projection Surface Scanning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank all of my colleagues who always tried to answer my questions concerning the amazing techniques available today. Special thanks to Bernhard Illerhaus, Anthony Olejniczak, Friedemann Schrenk, and Fred Spoor for providing figures to illustrate some applications.


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