A tool used to analyse footprints of dinosaurs, ancient ancestors and even criminals, has gone on display as a part of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London.
The prestigious exhibition takes the latest and best scientific breakthroughs from the last year and displays them at the week-long event. Bournemouth University's research, labelled 'Dinosaurs to Forensics' showcases the tool, its application for learning about history, and how it is being used by police forces to help catch criminals.
The tool, called DigTrace, enables footprint analysis and has previously been used to learn about dinosaurs and human ancestors. The tool now has real world application as the software allows police forces to capture 3D images of footwear impressions left at crime scenes.
At the exhibition, members of the public are invited to have their selfie taken with a dinosaur and learn about this latest science technology and how it is being used by police forces in the UK, as well as by academics in their research of ancient fossil footprints.
Professor Matthew Bennett is one of the academics leading on the research. He said, "For the last decade, we’ve spent a lot of time travelling the world studying fossil footprints; dinosaurs, humans, and ancient people, developing new research techniques. Recently, we’ve translated all of that knowledge into something we can use to help the police and forensic services.
"What our software, DigTrace does, is produce 3D models from photographs, the same photographs you’d take with a normal digital camera. We can look at dinosaur footprints, making them larger, and exploring them from about 20 photographs.
"We can then study, examine and compare this to others, but where this technology comes into its own is that technology developed to look into dinosaurs, can also be used for the study of traces left by criminals. We can see different tread and wear characteristics, brought out in the 3D image, unique to the wearer of the shoe."
Dinosaurs to Forensics is also gaining significant media interest, with features on BBC Breakfast and Tomorrow's World, with host Professor Brian Cox attending the Royal Society exhibition to visit the BU stand in person.
The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is hosting 22 exhibits from universities and charities across the UK with over 22,000 people expected to visit the exhibit during the week.