Research using engineering tools is making new options possible in the study and preservation of ancient finds. According to the manager of Dinosaur Hall at the Smithsonian Institution, the plan is to keep the original fossil bones off the floor, in a collection available for study by scholars, and to replace the skeleton with a replica created by methods that will include 3D modeling and rapid prototyping. Computer animations will help recreate the way the animal stood. The optical scanner analyzes an object in a series of small areas, or patches, which must be assembled to create the overall picture. In order to set up the later alignment of the scans, an engineer mapped a digital outline of the Triceratops. Restorers are expected to use the conserved Triceratops bones as patterns for molds, but when parts are missing or mismatched, mirror images will fill in. Paleobiologists will also use the scale model, along with Virtual Surfaces' animations, to study possible reconstructions of the dinosaur's stance.

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