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Article: Comparing surface digitization techniques in palaeontology using visual perceptual metrics and distance computations between 3D meshes

Palaeontology - Vol. 64 Part 2 - Cover Image
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 64
Part: 2
Publication Date: March 2021
Page(s): 179 202
Author(s): Ver??nica D??ez D??az, Heinrich Mallison, Patrick Asbach, Daniela Schwarz, and Alejandro Blanco
Addition Information

How to Cite

DíAZ, V.D., MALLISON, H., ASBACH, P., SCHWARZ, D., BLANCO, A. 2021. . Palaeontology, 64, 2, 179-202. DOI: /doi/10.1111/pala.12518

Author Information

  • Ver??nica D??ez D??az - Museum f??r Naturkunde Leibniz???Institut f??r Evolutions???und Biodiversit??tsforschung Invalidenstra??e 43 10115 Berlin Germany
  • Ver??nica D??ez D??az - Humboldt Universit??t Berlin Germany
  • Heinrich Mallison - CeNak Hamburg Hamburg Germany
  • Heinrich Mallison - Palaeo3D P??ttmes Germany
  • Patrick Asbach - Department of Radiology Charit?? ??? Universit??tsmedizin Berlin, Corporate member of Freie Universit??t Berlin Humboldt???Universit??t zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health 10117 Berlin Germany
  • Daniela Schwarz - Museum f??r Naturkunde Leibniz???Institut f??r Evolutions???und Biodiversit??tsforschung Invalidenstra??e 43 10115 Berlin Germany
  • Alejandro Blanco - Centro de Investigaci??ns Cient??ficas Avanzadas (CICA) Facultade de Ciencias Universidade da Coru??a 15071 A Coru??a Spain
  • Alejandro Blanco - Bayerische Staatssammlung f??r Pal??ontologie und Geologie Richard???Wagner???Str. 10 80333 M??nchen Germany

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 04 March 2021
  • Manuscript Accepted: 05 November 2020
  • Manuscript Received: 09 July 2020

Funded By

Berliner Hochschulprogramm f??r Wissenschaftlerinnen und K??nstlerinnen ???DiGiTal ??? Digitalisierung: Gestaltung und Transformation???
Xunta de Galicia, Spain. Grant Number: ED481B 2017/027

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library (Open Access)
Get Article: Wiley Online Library [Open Access]


The use of surface digitization techniques and methods in palaeontology has increased in the last two decades, mainly due to recent improvements in devices and software. However, many digitization efforts are published only as 3D models, with only a few details on the exact protocols used and sometimes not even indicating how to access these digital data, thus reducing the long???term reusability of the obtained files. It is important to include this information, as the applied techniques and workflows have significant effects on the final quality of 3D models. We compare 3D meshes created by seven different surface digitization techniques and protocols for a sauropod caudal vertebra and a testudine turtle in a flat slab of rock. These two specimens represent typical examples of objects in vertebrate palaeontology collections, making them a suitable sample for our tests. Besides these quantitative and topological comparisons we also have computed visual perceptual metrics, which aim to predict the visual quality of a 3D model as perceived by a human observer. Our results agree with previous works, confirming that photogrammetry is one of the most suitable options for obtaining high quality 3D models of fossils, producing higher quality meshes than current structured light 3D scanners.


We would like to thank M. Belvedere (Universit?? degli Studi di Firenze, Italy), B. Schurian and K. Mahlow (Museum f??r Naturkunde Berlin, Germany), E. Frey (Naturkundemuseum Karlsruhe, Germany), A. P??rez???Garc??a and D. Vidal (UNED, Madrid, Spain), J. Marc?????Nogu?? (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain), G. Lavou?? (LIRIS, INSA de Lyon, France) and D. Girardeau???Montaut (CloudCompare, France) for their invaluable help and comments, that greatly helped in the development of this work. J. Liston (Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Canada) kindly reviewed the English of the manuscript. We would like to thank S. Lautenschlager, S. Thomas, B. Lomax, I. Rahman and an anonymous reviewer for their useful comments and suggestions, which greatly improved the first drafts of this manuscript. This project is funded by the Berliner Hochschulprogramm f??r Wissenschaftlerinnen und K??nstlerinnen??? DiGiTal ??? Digitalisierung: Gestaltung und Transformation???. AB is supported by the Xunta de Galicia, Spain (ED481B 2017/027).

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