3D Laser Scanning is Helping us Study Animals
Using technology to gain greater insight into natural world
Anyone who has ever observed animals knows they carry or show certain behaviors. We find them fascinating, and for centuries a few individuals have set out to study these animal behaviors. At the same time, technology has advanced so far, we are starting to use it in astonishing ways that allow us to truly dig deeper in our area of interest. 3D laser scanning has been used for many things and has now entered many fields that involve studying humans, and now it is being used to study animals!
Alex Jordan from the Max Planck Institute and the University of Konstanz, Germany, has always been interested in fish and sea life. He has been interested in the cichlid fish, Neothauma tanganyicense. There are many types of cichlid fish, however, there are only 24 species that live in shells, and Alex Jordan decided after noticing certain fish choose very specific shells, that he would study this using 3D laser scanning.
Using technology to study animal behavior is relatively new, and some researchers are still debating whether or not technology should be used. However, many researchers and scientists are seeing the valuable uses of this 3D laser scanning. Deciding it is an excellent opportunity to dig deeper and learn more about the natural world.
How this technology is being used
Alex Jordan has taken small 3D laser scanning devices and scanned different shells that he has noticed various species using or preferring. Using a partnering system, he edited the shells, and then 3D printed replicas to use in his study. With the help of the scanning, he was able to pick up all the little details from the shells that could be important for the fish, 3D laser scanning is much more accurate than a human could be when creating a replica.
“Our ultimate goal is to to understand why animals choose the things they do, so first we have to be certain we know what they choose,” says Jordan.
How 3D laser scanning works
3D laser scanning works by using lasers and light projecting over an object, all while taking thousands of pictures. It usually comes in a handheld device, and the user can slowly walk around the object capturing every significant and small detail. The information is stored in the cloud, allowing it to be saved forever or shared with anyone around the world.
It captures things like texture, size, color, shapes, dimensions, and everything in between. When studying shells and animals, this makes it a perfect tool. Once all the information is captured and saved, it can be edited and printed for actual use. 3D laser scanning devices have proved to be one of the most useful tools when creating replicas in many fields.
Researchers around the world have adopted this technology because of how fast it works and the accuracy of the scans. It has been used to replicate ancient artifacts and dive deeper into history. Now it is being used to study animals and discover new things we would not have known otherwise.