Find Out How 3D Scanners Are Helping To Study Fossils

Have you ever wondered how the ancient world dating back to thousands of years ago looked like? Have you ever imagined the kind of creatures that roamed the earth? Archaeologists and paleontologists are now making use of 3D printing and scanning technologies to enable you to examine these rare historical objects.

Both 3D printing and 3D scanning form a complementary process. 3D scanning is all about taking numerous measurements of an object and compiling it all together to form a 3D image of the object. On the other hand, 3D printing is all about constructing the object through additive manufacturing.

With 3D you can make accurate measurements of ancient objects and very easily compare them with other specimens around the world. This gives you the option of making virtual comparisons and eventually saves you the hustle of bringing everyone together. Outlined below are some of the benefits of 3D scanning to archaeologists.

It helps in the documentation: 3D technologies are used to chart heritage sites. Non-profit organizations like CyArk have been using these 3D scanning technologies since 2003 to share files with the public. Google backed them up and helped them open this digital archaeology access to the public.

3D Scanning Fossils How 3D Scanning Technology is used in the Museum.
3D Scanning Fossils

Helps with digging deeper: Archaeologists can capture hundreds of pictures of their workspace with 3D scanners. They then combine them to form a 3D whole print. These scans help dig deeper without having to do the actual deep digging. This is particularly helpful when the physical site is protected or on unstable ground.

Provides the big picture: Archaeologists spot and analyse data gathered from the 3D scans. Their findings and conclusions often lead to a deeper understanding of the sites which leads to further discoveries which would have otherwise been missed.

Offers a means of looking into the past: When the scientists manipulate 3D images from the scans, it paints a picture to them of how the site might have looked like during its time, with much more correct precision and predictive growth than what other tools would have offered them.

How 3D Scanning Technology is used in the Museum.

Museums mostly use 3D technologies to overcome the problem of the inherent inaccessibility of archaeological findings. They use the technology to present full views of the past without endangering the safety of the artifacts.

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3D technologies offer greater reach, enhanced interactions, and accessibility. Andre LuJan, paleontologist and the Founder of the museum explains: “I felt it was necessary to have these fossils 3D scanned as it is less damaging than traditional molding and casting […] I have strung along and even had a no-call no-show for scheduled work.

I was about to give up when I found NVision on a Google search. Steve Kersen, the president of NVision, was awesome in answering questions and scheduling the job. We knew we had found our service provider. NVision being local was also very convenient.”

Offers greater reach: Many more people can see the objects and entire museum via electric file sharing and the internet without having to visit physically. Examples of museums that offer virtual tours include the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Easier accessibility: Museums and archaeological sites can offer 3D scanned objects online where people all over the world can access and examine. This expands their knowledge of ancient artifacts.

Enhances interactions: 3D scanning are used to create new levels of interactions with exhibits in museums. You can touch, rotate, zoom and examine closely 3D scans. You will obtain amazing information which would have otherwise been hard to notice directly. This offers museums better ways of telling stories of the past.

The Use of 3D Scanners in the Fields

Used in planning excavation: Before performing an extensive dig, it is essential to determine what the site has to offer first. 3D scanning can give paleontologists an overview of how the fossils are oriented in the site. They will gain insights on the best ways to proceed with maximum efficiency and minimum environmental disturbance.  

Used in fossil maintenance: Some fossils have been buried in places where it is impossible to extract them without causing them damage. 3D scanning is used in such scenarios. 3D scanning is also used in preservation due to its portability nature. Paleontologists can take scans of the fossils on-site and take them for examination in the lab without interfering with their resting place.

Helps in artifact revitalization: Photogrammetry 3D scanning techniques can be used to reclaim artifacts that may have been poorly preserved.

Use of 3D Scanners at Home

3D scans offer easy accessibility. It makes it possible for the general public to have rich historical content and facts at the palm of their hands through their computer or phone screens. MorphoSource by Duke University contains fossil collections from all over the world. These are used at home for both education and entertainment and further scientific research.

3D Scanning Fossils

Scanning of fossils usually leads to breakthroughs. Lots of paleontologists usually CT-scanning everything. Scans offer a better look, clearer images in greater detail. CT scans and enabling scientists to examine the scaled skin of these fossils, as well as their internal bones and soft tissues.

There is an app called Fossil Explorer that is available both on Google Play and App store that helps you identify fossils based on where you find them. To use the app, set your current location on the interactive map or simply choose an area you want to explore. The app will plot for you the types of rocks present at your chosen location and will offer a long list of fossils that are known to occur in rocks of the same age.

The app has other features like introductory facts and illustrations that act as a guide for beginners. As a user, you can create and share a list of fossils that you have found and even set wish lists for your future discoveries. Other free apps for identifying fossils include The Digital Atlas of Ancient Life which was created by scientists from the University of Kansas.

In conclusion, 3D digital scanning technologies are revolutionizing the preservation and study of paleontology specimens. This has made it possible to replicate fossils with exact accuracy in details compared to the original specimen. These technologies are presently in use both at home, in the fields, and at the museums.

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Matink is a "Jack Of All Trades" writer and admin at Matink love writing, and reading more about Technology, origin of life and understanding the universe. He is a qualified Master Electrician, Welder, Safety Professional and currently doing SEO and Google IT Support Professional Certificate at Follow Matink on twitter @thegadgetsjudge


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