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Ancient flesh crawler 'resurrected' with computer generated imagery

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/9/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Long extinct spider recreated in lab; Video shows how predatory spider walked on land

There would be few reasons as to why anyone would want to bring an ugly spider, long extinct, back to life. Thanks to computer generated imagery generated by fossils of a 410 million-year-old arachnid, however, scientists have been able to recreate how it walked on land. 

Comparing them to living arachnids, the researchers used an open source computer graphic program called 'Blender' to create the video showing the animals walking.

Comparing them to living arachnids, the researchers used an open source computer graphic program called "Blender" to create the video showing the animals walking.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/9/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: CGI, spider, arachnid, animation


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - One of the first predators on land, researchers used exceptionally preserved fossils from the Natural History Museum in London to create the animation.

The completed animation shows the most likely walking gait of the animal, which was thought to be only a few millimeters long.

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More than 400 million years after it became extinct, scientists have recreated one of the planet

More than 400 million years after it became extinct, scientists have recreated one of the planet's earliest predators. Researchers at the University of Manchester and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin used CGI to recreate the walk of a now extinct ancestor of the spider.


Thin slices of rock showing the animal's cross-section were used to work out the range of motion in the limbs of this ancient, extinct early relative of the spiders. The arachnid, known as Palaeocharinus, was part of a spider-like group known as Trigonotarbida.

These animals roamed Europe and North America, as well as Argentina, from around 419 and 290 million years ago. They ranged in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters in body length. Most were predatory, and later species were heavily armored.

The scientists used the fossils to work out the range of motion in the limbs of this ancient, extinc

The scientists used the fossils to work out the range of motion in the limbs of this ancient, extinct early relative of the spiders. From this, and comparisons to living arachnids, the researchers used an open source computer graphic program called Blender to create the video showing the animals walking in the animation above.


Comparing them to living arachnids, the researchers used an open source computer graphic program called "Blender" to create the video showing the animals walking.
 
"When it comes to early life on land, long before our ancestors came out of the sea, these early arachnids were top dog of the food chain," author Dr. Russell Garwood, a paleontologist in the University of Manchester's School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences says.

These eight-legged creatures were one of the earliest to walk the land, dominating the food chain wh

These eight-legged creatures were one of the earliest to walk the land, dominating the food chain while the ancestors of humans were still swimming in the primeval swamp. Pictured is an X-ray of the 410 million-year-old arachnid fossil from London's Natural History Museum.


"They are now extinct but, from about 300 to 400 million years ago, seem to have been more widespread than spiders.

"Now we can use the tools of computer graphics to better understand and recreate how they might have moved - all from thin slivers of rock, showing the joints in their legs."
 
These eight-legged creatures were one of the earliest to walk the land. On their time on earth, they dominated the food chain while the ancestors of humans were still swimming in the primeval swamp.

Pictured here are a sequence of images from the video showing how the arachnid walked. "For me, what

Pictured here are a sequence of images from the video showing how the arachnid walked. "For me, what's really exciting here is that scientists themselves can make these animations now, without needing the technical wizardry - and immense costs - of a 'Jurassic Park'-style film," Dr. Dunlop says.


Co-author Dr. Jason Dunlop, a curator at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, said: "These fossils - from a rock called the Rhynie chert - are unusually well-preserved.

"During my PhD I could build up a pretty good idea of their appearance in life. This new study has gone further and shows us how they probably walked.

"For me, what's really exciting here is that scientists themselves can make these animations now, without needing the technical wizardry - and immense costs - of a Jurassic Park-style film.

"When I started working on fossil arachnids we were happy if we could manage a sketch of what they used to look like; now we can view them running across our computer screens."

This work is part of a special collection of papers on three-dimensional visualization and analysis of fossils published.

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