Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (02): 254-264.doi: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0009

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A comparison between cranial measurements using three-dimensional laser scanning technology and manual measurements

HUI Jiaming1,2,3(), HE Letian1,2,3, WANG Minghui4   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044
    2. CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing 100044
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    4. Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing 100710
  • Received:2018-04-03 Revised:2018-09-20 Online:2019-05-15 Published:2020-09-10


Compared with traditional manual measurements, three-dimensional laser scanning technology is considered a method with better performance in terms of convenience and efficiency. Although such technology is being utilized in physical anthropology and paleoanthropology in recent years, some questions have emerged. For instance, whether 3D virtual images are acceptable and the measurement values based on them can be compatible with the manual ones. Here, to compare the differences between two measurement systems, we tried to measure skulls by both methods. The results show that landmarks digitized from the 3D virtual image and real skulls overlap basically. Specifically, those landmarks with typical morphology features usually show better goodness of fit, while other landmarks set by two methods in diverse ways tend to separate slightly in comparison. As for the measurement values, most of data generated by traditional manual methods are compatible with those from the 3D virtual image. Although several measurement values show significant differences when undergoing a paired t-test, such differences may have limited practical implications. Besides, the main source of such differences could be the method to set landmarks and the goodness of fit of those landmarks, while other factors like the performance of equipment, the reflectivity of skulls` surface, and the accuracy of alignment of 3D images acquired from scanning cannot be ignored.

Key words: Three-dimensional laser scanning, Manual measurement, Craniometry, Difference test, Compatibility

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