Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Suzanne G. Strait

Second Advisor

F. Robin O’Keefe

Third Advisor

Victor Fet


Three-dimensional laser scanning is an effective method of digitization in paleontology, but has traditionally been restricted to larger specimens. The goal of this study was to develop a laser scanning technique applicable to small mammalian (< 5 mm) dentition. Modeling protocols were developed, and a morphometric error study showed the system highly accurate (percent error = 1D- 0.4%, 2D- 0.05%, 3D- 1.74%). Automation and standardization were accomplished by implementation of a multiscan platform and autosurfacing macro reducing modeling time by 60%. To highlight one morphometric application, 3D models (n=61) of three sympatric Eocene marsupials were digitized, and traditionally qualitative diagnostic characters were quantified and assessed. All but two of the 19 characters examined proved diagnostic (p < 0.05), and exploratory canonical discriminant analysis confirmed three distinct species. Incorporating type specimens revealed a familial overlap, therefore, this novel modeling technique can be employed in a full revision of early Eocene marsupials.


Paleontology - Eocene.

Marsupials - Taxonomy.

Lasers in biology.