Logo for College of the Holy Cross

Search

Does the Dodo Deserve Its Bad Rap?

August 29th, 2012 by 


Back row, from left: Leon Claessens, associate professor of biology, Gregory Monfette ’13 and Andrew Biedlingmaier ’13. Front row, from left: Jaclyn Vignati '14 and lab technician Jennifer Leavitt '12.

TITLE “CSI Dodo: Dismantling and Digitizing the Dodo”

FACULTY-STUDENT RESEARCH TEAM Leon Claessens, associate professor of biology, with Andrew Biedlingmaier ’13, Gregory Monfette ’13, Jaclyn Vignati ’14 and lab technician Jennifer Leavitt ’12

WHAT THEY’RE RESEARCHING The students are working on the Aves 3D project, an online database of bones in the skeletons of living, recently extinct and fossil birds. This summer they focused on the evolution of the dodo, a large, flightless bird that went extinct in the 1600’s. “We have been dismantling 3D scans of two rare dodo skeletons we made last year so that we can finely edit each bone of the dodo individually,” says Biedlingmaier. “Then, we digitally reassemble the bones of the dodo in an anatomically correct fashion. We use 3D laser surface scanners and editing software to create digital models of bird bones that we borrow from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology and the Yale Peabody Museum. Using these 3D models on our database helps us to take precise measurements and compare bone morphology across bird families in ways that would be impossible or at least extremely time consuming if working with actual bones.”

WHAT THE STUDENTS GOT OUT OF IT Claessens has been working abroad at the Naturalis Centre for Biodiversity in the Netherlands this past school year. The students communicated with him via Skype. “Our professor has not been readily available this summer, so we’ve had to assume a greater degree of independence in learning to troubleshoot technical issues regarding our 3D models and our database. At the beginning of the summer we didn’t exactly know how to use our lab’s software to isolate single bones from an otherwise complete skeleton. Through much trial and error, we’ve been successful in segmenting these skeletons,” Biedlingmaier says.

HOW DO STUDENTS ADVANCE OR ENHANCE THE RESEARCH? “The students are an integral part of the research we undertake on bird anatomy. The 3D work is very labor intensive and without the extra manpower we would not be able to collect and edit so much data in such a short time frame,” Claessens says.

WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS WITH YOUR RESEARCH? The research team has placed an order to have important dodo bones printed in 3D. They will not only have digital models of this bird, but actual plastic models of selected bones as well that they can compare with other bones. “We’re interested to learn how the dodo might have walked or even ran. The dodo has a reputation as a rather clumsy flightless bird, but this reputation may be undeserved. By meticulously articulating the skeleton of the dodo, and — for the first time since 1872 and with much better evidence — reconstructing muscle mass and guts, we can determine where the center of gravity of the bird may have been positioned. This is a crucial first step in our computer-based investigation of dodo motion,” says Claessens.

During the summer, we visited five on-campus summer research teams. Take a look at their projects:

Dodo Does the Dodo Deserve Its Bad Rap?
Laser Researching Laser-Cooled Atoms and How They Could Improve GPS Systems
cost In Advertising, Perception is Reality — But at What Cost to Consumers?
Election Research Team Travels to Wisconsin to Explore Recall Election in American Politics
View a list of symposium presenters, their project titles, and descriptions [PDF].

Related Information:

| More
Tags
Categories
News

Comments are closed.

Sort 
Search  
National Voter Registration Day
9/21/2020
Online Online

National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy....


Co-Curricular Extravaganza (Event canceled)
9/23/2020
Hogan Center 320

Open to Campus Community Only


Co-Curricular Extravaganza (Event canceled)
9/23/2020
Hogan Center Ballroom & 328

Open to Campus Community Only


#WatchWednesday - Stolen Education
9/23/2020
Online Online

This week our #WatchWednesday showing will be Stolen Education. The film documents the...


Cocurricular Extravaganza
9/24/2020
Online Online

Save the Date: The Purple Key Society is hosting the annual Cocurricular Extravaganza...


HC Green Fund Virtual Working Party
9/24/2020
Online Online

Join a virtual workspace weekly to brainstorm campus sustainability projects, develop...


HC Green Fund First-Ever General Meeting
9/28/2020
Online Online

Join the first-ever Holy Cross Green Fund general meeting. Established by students in...


HC Green Fund Virtual Working Party
10/1/2020
Online Online

Join a virtual workspace weekly to brainstorm campus sustainability projects, develop...


Holy Cross Student Forum with Dr. Anthony Fauci '62
10/6/2020
Online Online

NEW DATE: Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at 2 p.m.Begin the fall 2020 semester in a conversation...


HC Green Fund Virtual Working Party
10/8/2020
Online Online

Join a virtual workspace weekly to brainstorm campus sustainability projects, develop...


HC Green Fund Virtual Working Party
10/15/2020
Online Online

Join a virtual workspace weekly to brainstorm campus sustainability projects, develop...


HC Green Fund Virtual Working Party
10/22/2020
Online Online

Join a virtual workspace weekly to brainstorm campus sustainability projects, develop...


HC Green Fund Virtual Working Party
10/29/2020
Online Online

Join a virtual workspace weekly to brainstorm campus sustainability projects, develop...


HC Green Fund Virtual Working Party
11/5/2020
Online Online

Join a virtual workspace weekly to brainstorm campus sustainability projects, develop...


HC Green Fund Virtual Working Party
11/12/2020
Online Online

Join a virtual workspace weekly to brainstorm campus sustainability projects, develop...


HC Green Fund Virtual Working Party
11/19/2020
Online Online

Join a virtual workspace weekly to brainstorm campus sustainability projects, develop...


Becoming a White Ally for Racial Justice Workshop Series (FACULTY, STAFF AND STUDENTS)
12/2/2020
Online Online

The Offices of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Multicultural Education invite all...