The biggest collection of 3D models is coming to life

The major museums from all over the world are working together on a very ambitious project: 3D scanning all fossils and specimens to create a “Global Digital Museum”.

A skull 3D model of Ailurus-fulgens, the Red Panda [Source: Fabbaloo]

The goal of the initiative is to make the large collection of these historical pieces available digitally for researchers, students, educators all around the world.

Scanning all the specimens won’t be a quick job though. Give the amount of material to scan, it is actually safe to assume that it will take us close to a century to add all the 3D models to the giant library. The Smithsonian expects their work alone will take “50 years” to complete!

It is still unclear whether the models will be merely displayed in proprietary 3D online viewers of if they will be fully downloadable and 3D printable, but the intention appears to be to deploy the downloadable 3D models to the public for all of this material so that exactly that kind of research can be done. The BBC reports:

“Prof Emily Rayfield at the University of Bristol uses CT scans of dinosaur skulls and other bones to build computer models for research. While it would be difficult even to lift the real, fragile, fossilized skull of diplodocus, for example, Prof Rayfield is able to twist, turn, compress and stress her digital dinosaur bones to reveal how the animals would have moved, what they ate and how they interacted with their environment. This helped her and her colleagues to solve one the great puzzles about the sauropods – the small-headed, huge bodied dinosaurs in the same related group as the famous diplodocus.”

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Categories: Innovation