Digital dinos: Paleontology goes virtual at USF

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A groundbreaking class at the University of South Florida is putting a modern twist on the prehistoric past.
It's called digital dinosaurs.

"Digital dinosaurs provides a comprehensive exploration, including some hands-on training of the digital tools used in paleontology," explained the professor, Dr. Ryan Carney. "So while the subject matter focuses on dinosaurs, the goal of the class is really to provide digital skills to these students so they can become innovators in the 21st-century workforce."

Professor Carney takes a 3D look at a prehistoric bird coming to life through virtual reality, from fossil to flight.

"I've been working on this project for over a decade and so to be able to see it in immersive 3D is just amazing," continued Dr. Carney.

"I've never been able to see anything from dinosaurs be able to be so aesthetically pleasing," said student Alex Kirk.

The class explores other modern technologies while mixing in some creativity.  Dr. Carney gave them a project of creating their own creatures, using a 3D printer. 

These high-tech methods are getting international attention.  Carney has been recognized as one of National Geographic's Emerging Explorers.

"It's super exciting,” he continued.  “They have been really key in their support as far as this research.”

It’s research that he hopes will educate those beyond his classroom.

"By scanning them, by putting them online, anyone around the world can study them, can print them out, so we can get a better understanding of the past,” he added.