The Application of Digital Reconstruction Techniques in Taphonomy of an Upper Cretaceous Dinosaur Site in Eastern Wyoming

Arthur Chadwick, Mark Silver, Larry Turner, Justin Woods

High-resolution Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, together with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software provide powerful new tools for the taphonomist.  We have applied these techniques in our research on a massive Upper Cretaceous dinosaur bonebed in the Lance Formation in northeastern Wyoming, permitting centimeter accurate photographic reconstructions of the features of the quarry essential for taphonomic study.  We can then query the resulting three dimensional mapping and answer essential taphonomic questions after returning from the field.  We are able to process over two thousand specimens from a typical season's excavation and convert the data into accurate and addressable virtual quarry maps.  Using the resulting quarry maps, we can visualize the positions of every bone.  The maps and photographs and data on the specimens are available on the internet so that the integrity of the taphonomic data, now in excess of sixteen thousand specimens, is assured for the future.

paper in Journal of Taphonomy, 14.2016