Undark: 3D Printing and the Murky Ethics of Replicating Bones . “TEN YEARS AGO, it wasn’t possible for most people to use 3D technology to print authentic copies of human bones. Today, using a 3D printer and digital scans of actual bones, it is possible to create unlimited numbers of replica bones — each curve and break and tiny imperfection intact — relatively inexpensively. The technology is increasingly allowing researchers to build repositories of bone data, which they can use to improve medical procedures, map how humans have evolved, and even help show a courtroom how someone died. But the proliferation of faux bones also poses an ethical dilemma — and one that, prior to the advent of accessible 3D printing, was mostly limited to museum collections containing skeletons of dubious provenance.”
Boing Boing pointed me toward this crazy search engine for animal heads. From the brief writeup: “x6udpngx’s x6ud is a single-purpose search engine that offers high-quality animal photographs for use by artists seeking reference material.” This is a wow. First you pick a species (not all species are available.) Then you pick a skull type underneath and click and drag the skull to orient it in the position you want to find. For example, I pick hawk species, and the chicken skull. I click and drag the skull so I’m looking at it in profile. I click search and the search results I will get will be for hawk heads in profile. It doesn’t work as well for weird positions like the top or bottom of the skull, but still. Go play with it.
Idaho State University: Idaho Museum of Natural History researchers receive grant to digitally scan bones of California blue whale. “The Idaho Museum of Natural History and Idaho State University received a $20,000 award from the National Science Foundation in January to scan the entire skeleton of a blue whale that washed ashore in California. The skeleton is at the Noyo Center for Marine Science in Fort Bragg, California.”
Read an article about this but it didn’t include the URL, so I’m going straight to the source to tell you about Fauna Toolkit: Bird Bones. From the home page: “A portal to 3D digitised models of bird bones from museum collections. 159 bones from 28 species in 22 families and 19 orders are now available from the Index below.”
Phys.org: 3-D scanning fossils to help researchers around the world study mastodons. “Boxes upon boxes filled with the fossilized remains of a mastodon that died in Virginia more than 18,000 years ago are being hauled up the steps to Virginia Commonwealth University’s Virtual Curation Laboratory, where the massive Ice Age animal’s fossils—including the tip of a tusk, a very worn tooth, toe bones, a rib bone and a mandible—are slated to be 3-D scanned.”
Lucy is over 3 million years old but she looks only 900,000 thanks to this one weird trick. Just kidding. Lucy is a famous collection of bone fossils of an Australopithecus, and earlier this week made 3D scans of some of her bones available. “The world’s most famous fossil is now open source. 3D scans of Lucy — a 3.18-million-year-old hominin found in Ethiopia — were released on 29 August, allowing anyone to examine her arm, shoulder and knee bones and even make their own 3D-printed copies. The scans accompany a Nature paper that argues that Lucy, a human relative belonging to the species Australopithecus afarensis, died after falling from a tree.”
Wow! A Chinese oracle bone, scanned and reproduced in 3D! “The high-resolution image of the bone, which measures about 9×14 cm, knits together 1.3 million aspects to allow a seamless view of its entire surface. The image brings into sharp focus not only the finely incised questions on the obverse of the bone, but also the divination pits engraved on the reverse and the scorch marks caused by the application of heat to create the cracks (which were interpreted as the answers from the spirit world). These can be seen more clearly than by looking at the actual object itself, and without the risk of damage by handling the original bone.”
The Dinosaur National Monument’s “Wall of Bones” has been mapped and digitized. “Dinosaur National Monument’s famous Wall of Bones is now online for everyone to explore. Two stories high and packed with fossils, the Carnegie Quarry is one of the few places in existence where the public can view dinosaur bones exactly where they were first uncovered in the rock. … The Carnegie Quarry originally held over 5000 fossils, 1500 of which remain in the rock where they were deposited in an ancient riverbed. Athird of those are currently included in the interactive Digital Quarry. Eventually, the Digital Quarry will incorporate all of the original 5000 – digitally reconstructing the historic quarry and making all associated data and archival materials publicly accessible.”