In an impressive new project from Manchester University, scientists have recreated the walking gait of an arachnid that died out 410 million years ago. By using fossils, thin slices of rock that showed the cross-section of the arachnid and all of its joints and limbs, the scientists were able to begin the project. By then combining that knowledge with observing the movement of modern arachnids, the scientists were able to use an open-source computer graphic program called Blender to create a video that shows how the animals might have walked when they inhabited the world.
However, this discovery isn’t only interesting because of how it might help us understand modern arachnids more. Before the early ancestors of the world left the ocean, these arachnids were what ruled the earth. They were so numerous that they outnumbered the current population of arachnids today. This discovery was only possible due to the fossils that were used. They were from a rock called the Rhynie chert and were very well preserved. This state of advanced preservation is what allowed the scientists to glean the information they needed for the video.
This also speaks to the incredible advancements that have been made in computer science and animation. Scientists (in fact, anyone) can now use this sort of technology easily and cheaply. This might lead to more and more fossils being used to create walking models such as this one, furthering our scientific knowledge even more.
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