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A few years ago, a friend and colleague of mine was working in the Hell Creek formation of Montana and collected a small fossil jaw fragment.  Due to the tiny size and incomplete nature of the bone, along with the need to continue work during the limited time available, he wrapped up the specimen, tentatively labeled it as a crocodilian jaw and moved on.  Later, another friend of mine was evaluating this specimen in the museum collection (Museum of the Rockies) and concluded that the jaw was not that of a crocodilian, but rather of a tyrannosaur.  Named "Chomper", this specimen generated a lot of excitement, due to the paucity of baby/juvenile T. rex material known and the strong current interest in dinosaur ontogeny. 

The specimen was sent to Dr. Larry Whitmer, who brought it into the digital domain to realize a very interesting new exhibit feature.  After CT-scanning the jaw, Larry and his cohorts digitally created the rest of the skull.  To do this, they used scans of another (but substantially larger) juvenile T. rex skull known as "Jane".  Using other existing tyrannosaurid fossils for reference, they edited the Jane skull model to shrink it down to the correct proportions needed to fit the tiny jaw bone.  Simply scaling down an adult T. rex skull wouldn't do, since growth in the skull is allometric (different areas grow at different times/rates).  The resulting skull model was then printed on an Objet printer (a supremely nice machine) and is now being prepared to go on exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies.  You can see a nice chronicle of the process on the WhitmerLab Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/witmerlab

As someone who has spent a lot of time manually sculpting/reconstructing dinosaur skulls by hand, I can appreciate the mix of artistic sensibility and anatomical knowledge needed to do this kind of reconstruction, and I must say that the results of the WhitmerLab crew are fantastic, and this technology allows for many amazing possibilities.

Michael

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