Research Topic

Evolving Virtual and Computational Palaeontology

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About this Research Topic

Paleontology focuses on the study of past life and how it evolved. As such, Paleontology traditionally stood in the middle between Geology and Biology. During the last few decades, the development of new technologies, methods and increased computational power has widened paleontological research fronts, ...

Paleontology focuses on the study of past life and how it evolved. As such, Paleontology traditionally stood in the middle between Geology and Biology. During the last few decades, the development of new technologies, methods and increased computational power has widened paleontological research fronts, moving the discipline towards the biological and ecological aspects, and providing the opportunity to fully explore quantitative aspects of phenotypic evolution. The ever-increasing availability of 3D models and CT scans figures among the most recent contributions to this ‘quantitative revolution’ increased virtual fossil representations in scientific papers leading to the dawn of the “Virtual Paleontology” era. Virtual (digital) representations allow non-invasive anatomical studies of both external and internal morphological structures, which promise to be a crucial advancement for the study of rare, often delicate fossil specimens that are often only accessible to a minority of scholars.

Despite the benefits provided by virtual representations and by new analytical tools, virtual Paleontology and computational analyses are still not as common among researchers, especially in cases where classic paleontological research is preferred. Virtual data is therefore poorly shared and new methodologies usually do not easily reach different scholars, in particular younger researchers, who usually show an insatiable hunger for learning and acquiring new skills and methodologies.

This Research Topic represents a collection of open access papers on virtual representations and new computational analyses in order to provide a meeting point for new generations of paleontologists and an updated overview of virtual Paleontology applications.

We welcome authors to submit papers sharing their data, research and studies on fossils, both on vertebrates and invertebrates, focusing on virtual representations and new computational analyses.


Keywords: 3D scan, CT scan, virtual fossil, computational analysis, 3D analysis


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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