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Devil tracks and 3D scanning


Ruth Whelan

I have spent today in the field with David Hocking and Judy Clarke, from TMAG, looking at mammal footprints. We had many tools with us, such as: plaster to mix with water, scale bars, 3D scanners, slow motion video, and night cameras.

We located footprints in the mud, identified them, mixed the plaster, and poured it in. We then had to be patient, the plaster takes about 15min to dry, and then presume that it will be brittle. Cautiously we lifted the plaster, with the assistance of a trowel, gently removing the mud that lifted with it. Once out of the soil the plaster continues to dry, strengthening as it dries. We continue to be gentle with the casting as plaster is quite brittle.

The photo in the heading shows the plaster cast footprints along side the scale bar. This enables us to measure the size of the foot plaster cast even when in a photo. Can you work out how long the foot of the devil is?

The photo below, with Buff in the trap, shows us the scale bar alongside the cast footprint, along side the photo of Buff’s rear foot. Can you notice the detail in the cast? What do you think this provides the animal?

devil tracks 1

David has been using LiDAR technology to scan many things this week. Recently Apple has incorporated the technology into the iPhone 12 Pro. This has made scanning in the field a lot more accessible. Click here and then on the grey bar that says, “Common Wombat”, select “Autopilot”, and watch the journey through the modelling of the Wombat habitat. You can turn off the Autopilot if you want to go at a different speed through the modelling.