by • February 18, 2016 • No Comments
Last fall, scientists revealed the discovery of a new species of early human, Homo naledi, deep in an underground cave in South Africa. The ancient fossils stay locked away in Johannesburg, but now anyone can appear at them online. You can actually 3D-print your own replicas.
MorphoSource.org is a database of hundreds of digital scans of fossils that are on the market for free to download and 3D-print. Visitors can select of specimens that include a 40,000-year-old Neanderthal skull of Israel or teeth of a 60-foot prehistoric shark named Megalodon.
The site allows for users to zoom in or rotate on an image of a specimen to view it of all angles. So you have the version to download the data, that can be utilized in a 3D printing device to generate an precise version.
“We’re fundamentally bringing bones out of museum catacombs and putting them online,” Doug Boyer, an assistant professor at Duke University who launched the site in 2013, said in a press release.
Since the archive was made, just about 9,000 images have been uploaded of additional than 70 institutions around the world that include the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the National Museum of Myanmar Primates. Today the collection represents additional than 500 species.
Duke evolutionary anthropology professor Stactually Churchill, a member of the team that discovered and mentioned Homo naledi, said that the website offers public access to fossils in a way that contrasts with past practices in the field of human origins.
“Paleoanthropology is traditionally a closed great ol’ boy network where fieldwork is done in secret and findings are kept secret,” he said in a press release. “Researchers frequently sit on fossils for years and years preceding publishing, and and so actually after publication it can be complex to see the fossils or actually see casts of them.”
After the discovery of H. naledi, the authors of the paper describing the species submitted high-resolution scans of additional than 80 key specimens to the MorphoSource database. The discovery was one of the biggest caches of fossil hominins at any time discovered and included additional than 1,500 bones representing parts of 15 people ranging in age of infants to adults.
Within three months, scans of the species were saw 43,000 times and downloaded 7,600 times.
“We’re quite proud of that,” Churchill said.
A number of fossil scans in addition come with lesson plans for teachers through an initiative called PaleoTEACH.
The database can go on to grow as additional and additional scans are uploaded. Within the past few weeks Boyer and other researchers uploaded data for additional than 400 skulls as well as bones of 59 species of monkeys, apes, and lemurs of the the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard.
“Paleoanthropology has been relying on digital data additional and additional,” Boyer says. “Before we released this dataset, just a dozen labs around the world had digital samples that sizeable at their fingertips. Overnight we leveled the playing field in a worthwhile way.”
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