Moving Images: 1st Place

Visualization of an Australopithecus aferensis specimen: Implications for functional foot anatomy

Submitted by: Eleanor Milman

NetID: emilma2

Program: Biomedical Visualization

Division: Life Sciences

This is an excerpt from my Master's Project Research in Biomedical Visualization. The purpose of this project was to explore visual and technological strategies in creating an animation about the fossils of human ancestry. Working in collaboration with paleoanthropologist Dr. Zeray Alemseged at the University of Chicago, I reconstructed, modeled, and animated the foot of the Dikika Child fossil, also known as "Selam" or "Lucy's Child." This individual is the youngest early hominin specimen in the human fossil record, making her fossil essential in uncovering the history and evolution of our unique human characteristics. In particular, I explore how different features of the foot anatomy can be linked to the development of upright bipedal locomotion in humans. Using CT slices, I compiled 2D image data and used it to create 3D models of each skeletal feature. I then retouched the 3D surface of the models and applied lights and materials to them. I then animated them to reveal different important relationships. For comparison, I also completed the same process with a juvenile human specimen. This project not only facilitated the visualization of important paleoanthropological specimens, but it also fostered a relationship between the Biomedical Visualization department at UIC and the Organismal Biology and Anatomy department at the University of Chicago.