JoVE Logo
Faculty Resource Center

Sign In



Photogrammetric Three-dimensional Modeling and Printing of Cetacean Skeleton using an Omura's Whale Stranded in Hong Kong Waters as an Example

Published: September 3rd, 2020



1Department of Infectious Diseases and Public Health, Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, 2State Key Laboratory of Marine Pollution, City University of Hong Kong, 3Office of the Vice-President (Development & External Relations), City University of Hong Kong, 4National Museum of Nature and Science
* These authors contributed equally

The preparation of cetacean, in particular baleen whale, skeletons presents a great challenge due to their high lipid content and uncommon size. Documentation of the skeletal morphology is important to produce accurate and reliable models for both research and educational purposes. In this paper, we used a 10.8-meter long Omura’s whale stranded in Hong Kong waters in 2014 as an example for the illustration. This rare and enormous specimen was defleshed, macerated, and sun-dried to yield the skeleton for research and public display. Morphology of each bone was then documented by photogrammetry. The complex contour of the skeleton made automated photoshoot inadequate and 3 manual methods were used on bones of different sizes and shapes. The captured photos were processed to generate three-dimensional (3D) models of 166 individual bones. The skeleton was printed half-size with polylactic acid for display purposes, which was easier to maintain than the actual cetacean bones with high residual fat content. The printed bones reflected most anatomical features of the specimen, including the bowing out rostral region and the caudal condylar facet that articulated with Ce1, yet the foramina on the parieto-squamosal suture, which are diagnostic character of Balaenoptera omurai, and an indented groove on the frontal bone at the posterior end of the lateral edge were not clearly presented. Extra photoshoots or 3D surface scanning should be performed on areas with meticulous details to improve precision of the models. The electronic files of the 3D skeleton were published online to reach a global audience and facilitate scientific collaboration among researchers worldwide.


Keywords Photogrammetry

This article has been published

Video Coming Soon

JoVE Logo


Terms of Use





Copyright © 2024 MyJoVE Corporation. All rights reserved