Skulls: intro

We are studying the morphology and development of the pinniped skull by collecting the skulls of dead seals that we found on the Sea Lion Island beaches. Most skulls belong to southern elephant seals, usually indviduals that were killed by the orcas along the years.Pinniped skulls, and elephant seal skulls in particular, are big and heavy, and are not easy to handle and to measure.Moreover, to directly obtain 3D landmarcks to study the skull morphology in three dimensions expensive scanners are required. An easy alternative is to use 3D photogrammetry to create 3D models. It is definitely easier to work on a 3D model of the skull, instead on the skull itself. Therefore, our main job with the skulls at the moment is to take photos of the many skull that we collected along the years, and convert the photos to 3D models (see the out workflow page to see how we do that). 3D models are very useful to study skull morphology, but they are also very good to visually show the difference between species, sexes and ages.

You can see here an example of a 3D model of a skull. It is EDO, a 8 year old male killed by the orcas. You can rotate the model with your mouse, and see it full screen using the button the bottom right corner.

Skulls of different pinniped species

Skull sexual dimorphism

Skull growth

Skull study workflow


For more information please contact us by email at Thank you for your interest in our research projects !