Skull: Lightfield and 3D model / by Brenda Hartshorn

While accompanying a crew for doing some Native American archaeology exploration at Hatch Creek, one of the people from the party found a canine skull.  Initially, given the location of being out in the middle of Sierra Foothills (about a 3 hour hike from the nearest small town and an hour drive from the city of Modesto), the most logical explanation would have been that the skulls was from a coyote.  However, under further examination with the aid of using California Academy of Science's online 3D Skull exhibit, we were able to identify that the skull was actually from a Pitbull or breed close to it.  Since there are ranches in the area, it is possible that this dog came from one of them.  There did not appear to be an evidence of a mountain lion attack, however only the skull was found.


Although it was sad finding the skull of a dog and our survey of the area was unsuccessful for identifying any undocumented Miwok village site locations for the State of California, it was a great day to have been out in nature and use some technology I had helped make while working at Google.  The Skulls exhibit that California Academy of Science did in collaboration with Google's 3D scanning technology was one of the projects I was most excited to be involved in while working there.  I can now also be proud that I have used the technology as a scientific reference for identification. I hope to see this technology grow as a common tool for reference that is widely available to students, hobbyists, and professionals doing research.

Seeing the skull as a lightfield using the Lytro Illum has an added realism experience which is very nice.  Although, since I am unable to turn the skull around with a single lightfield, using it as a reference tool isn't as good as viewing the 3D model.  However, the lightfield is nice being able to see the higher resolution texture on the surface of the skull and be able to get a sense of the terrain in which it was found.  Therefore, the lightfield could serve as a nice supporting piece of material for an exhibit for adding context to the subject.