Speaking of Kevin Padian, as I just did in the “Macroevolution primer,” here’s a tidbit from the past.
The cover article for Nature (May, 1999) describes how StudioToolsTM computer modelling and design software from Alias|wavefront is used to analyze dinosaur tracks and to explain a mysterious, apparent “spur” mark in each track, sometimes supposed to be from a “reversed hallux” or backward-facing toe.
At that time I was at Alias|wavefront helping to document a new version of StudioToolsTM. I attended a talk by the author, Kevin Padian. He described how used the software was used to model a mud surface and a dinosaur’s foot, then trace its motion in three dimensions, discovering that the “spur” was an artifact of how the foot entered the mud. I’m pretty sure that our resident scientist, Bill Buxton, found the research opportunity and donated a copy of the software.
See also “How Dinosaurs Walked the Walk.”
Related book: It’s ten years old, but the Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, edited by Philip J. Currie* and Kevin Padian,** still looks very interesting.
*Curator of Dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta
**Professor of Integrative Biology and Curator of Lower Vertebrates in the Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley