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Dinosaurs to forensics

Hands-on at the exhibit

  • Scan the soles of your shoes and explore what they can tell our forensic team!
  • Take part in forensic quests at our mocked-up crime scenes and famous dinosaur track sites.
  • Learn more about how to capture 3D data and how to code in Python!
  • Take a selfie with our digital T-Rex and mammoth! Learn about our research on mammoth and sloth tracks from New Mexico where footprints tell the story of the human hunter.

Find out more

The average person takes 7,500 steps a day – and if you do this for 80 years that is a staggering 216,262,500 steps! That’s 216,262,500 chances for your footprints to be either fossilised, or for you to leave forensic evidence behind!

It is therefore not surprising that footprint evidence is one of the most frequent types of evidence left at a crime scene.  But this evidence is not always recorded or used as part of a criminal investigation, because, until recently, police have not had the tools to do it routinely or cost effectively.

This is where dinosaurs and fossilised footprints come in.  At Bournemouth University we have been studying footprints left by ancient dinosaurs or our human ancestors. With the support of a NERC Innovation Grant in 2015 and support from the Home Office and the National Crime Agency, we have developed bespoke software called DigTrace to help analyse and capture 3D tracks, whether left by a dinosaur, one of our ancestors or by a suspect at a crime scene. The software is translating academic research studying the evolution of human gait (and other vertebrates such as dinosaurs) using fossil footprints, into something to help society combat crime.

DigTrace - is a practical tool for forensic scientists that is now being trialled by UK police forces to help keep us all safe. It can also be used by palaeontologists to study dinosaur tracks and those of other extinct species such as mammoths and sloths. Come along and learn more about it!

Find out more at DigTrace.

Presented by Bournemouth University and Swiss Office de la culture, Paléontologie A16.