3-D scans turn fossils into print replicas

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Nearly 20,000 fossils in Britain have been scanned and uploaded onto the Web, allowing the public to download them and print intricate replicas.


Thousands of prehistoric fossils have been rescued from dusty museum archives and made available online by the British Geological Survey as highly detailed 3-D models.

Researchers and the public can now access almost 20,000 virtual fossils and print 3-D replicas. There are also plans in the works to digitally scan dinosaur fossils.

Dr. Mike Howe, chief curator at the British Geological Survey, oversaw the large task of scanning and photographing almost every fossil type found in Britain.

"Nobody has attempted to put out for the public and for the whole academic community a large collection of 3-D fossil models, so this is the first one worldwide that has ever been attempted," he said.

Written By: Reuters
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    • In reply to #1 by Alan4discussion:

      I would hope they also produce scans of microscopic fossils, to give a wider view of the life in ancient ecosystems.

      Wonderful idea, Alan. There’s something quite magical about the thought of enlarging such organisms three dimensionally, in the same way as a microscope enlarges them in two dimensions.

    • In reply to #3 by A3Kr0n:

      … download a 3D file of a fossil?

      Don’t wager any cash, but it seems to work like this:

      type fossil group or a specific fossil in search box

      a list of online fossils will appear, a red cube at bottom of information indicates it’s available in 3-D

      files can be opened with compatible browsers and .obj or .ply OR via free MeshLab @ the site.

  1. Here is how to get the scans:

    go to 3dfossils

    To search for a creature

    • turn the “3d Scan available” search criterion on
    • Pick an animal.
    • Click show full.
    • Download the *.ply or *.obj files. You can also fetch the image or 3d image.
  2. There are of course possibilities for editing images or combining them, so it is only a matter of time before fraudsters work out the abuses.

    Any bets on how long it takes the “Hamsters” to find a fossil Dinosaur with a fossil saddle on it for public display?

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