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AfricanFossils.org Virtual Lab: View and Download 3D Models of Human Ancestors #3DThursday #3DPrinting #3DScanning

African Fossils

An excellent proof of concept for how 3D scanning and 3D printing can be of benefit to science and science education, this world class collection of fossil finds from Lake Turkana in East Africa has been made available to world as a digital exhibition thanks to a partnership between Dr. Louise Leakey with Autodesk:

This virtual lab showcases a spectacular collection of fossils and artifacts found mostly at Lake Turkana in East Africa. The digital collection of animals, human ancestors, as well as ancient stone tools offers a unique tool for scholars and enthusiasts to explore and interact with the collection online.

It also provides an opportunity to download models for 3-D printing as well as to comment and share images of your favorite printed fossil objects on our forum. Additional specimens will be added regularly to this online collection so please visit us often. Welcome to the lab!

And from a news announcement around the launch of the project back in 2011:

Dr. Louise Leakey (TBI, Stony Brook University) and 3D software company Autodesk have teamed up with the National Museums of Kenya to create an ongoing interactive showcase famous fossil discoveries from the Turkana Basin in virtual 3D.

AfricanFossils.org enables visitors to explore a virtual “lab” filled with numerous famous fossil finds which can be enlarged, rotated, and viewed from any angle. While offering a limited selection of fossils at the moment, Leakey plans to continually update the library to comprise not only fossils of human ancestors but the other prehistoric animals with which they shared their environment.

Leakey was awarded a grant from San Rafael, CA-based Autodesk which enabled her to work with the National Museums of Kenya to digitize a number of scientifically important fossils in the Museum’s collection. The process involved making numerous photos of each specimen from a variety of angles and using Autodesk’s proprietary technology to create an immersive virtual environment in which visitors can closely examine some of the most important pieces of evidence for human evolution.

“This is a fantastic use of this revolutionary new technology,” says Leakey. “People from all over the world will now be able to enjoy these fossils which previously were available only to scientists visiting the museum.”

Visit the site here.

African Fossils


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