Forest Service photo of Bull Canyon dinosaur track damaged by plaster

Fun, No-Impact Alternatives to Illegal Plaster Casting of Dinosaur Tracks

Don’t pour plaster or other materials into dinosaur tracks to make casts. First of all, it’s illegal because it damages tracks. Second, it messes up the tracks for other site visitors and for scientific research. And third, it’s expensive to do restoration work and investigate resource damage. Even worse, there are folks who steal tracks or severely damage them in the attempt.

There are fun alternative ways to record and share your track site experience. All of these leave the fossil untouched and as amazing for others to see as when you found it.

1. Take a Photo!
The easiest and simplest way is to take a photo. Think about setting something near the track to show scale. Experiment with camera angles. The angle of light can really make track photos more dramatic, so think about visiting sites when the sun’s angle is low.

We’d love for you to share your track site photos to Instagram #DeepTimeTreksUtah. There are great photo printing services that can turn your photo into beautiful prints to grace your walls.

2. Try Making a Stereo Photo
A stereo photo is the easiest way to share a 3D image. A stereo 3D image uses two photos from slightly different viewpoints to create an image you can see in 3D. There are many phone apps that make the process easy. There are tutorials online to assist photographers. You may need some stereo glasses to view a 3D image like the anaglyph to the right. You can also create a flickering animation to see 3D without special glasses.

3. Learn Photogrammetry
An advanced way to record 3D using photos is photogrammetry. In photogrammetry, you take many images of your subject at different angles from all around it and above it. Photogrammetry works best on objects with lots of texture, so dinosaur tracks can make good subjects. Software and even some portable device apps can then process the photos and generate a 3D “point cloud” that you can potentially turn into a virtual object. You can share 3D models virtually or even make 3D prints.

4. Buy a Professional Replica
There are some really great commercial dinosaur track replicas available online an via some museum stores that are reasonably priced and that look great for display and gifts.

A professional Grallator track reproduction by Gaston Design