Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.
On October 5th 2021, Polish news website The First News (TFN) spoke of a rhinoceros skeleton that had been discovered in May 2016 during the construction of the Expressway S3 road in Western Poland, which a group of palaeontologists rescued from builders intending to throw it away. Speaking to TFN, Dr. Krzysztof Stefaniak of the University of Wrocław (the university) argued that palaeontological finds don’t legally need to be secured like archaeological ones. He also claimed that the only reason the builders didn’t throw the skeleton away was that they were more interested in watching a football match.
Named Stefania after its Latin name Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis, the 120,000-year-old animal’s almost fully preserved skeleton was first believed to have been that of a woolly rhinoceros. However, further investigation by experts at the university showed that it was that of the much rarer Merck’s rhinoceros. (The Merck’s rhinoceros lived circa 700,000 years ago until it became extinct circa 40,000 years ago.)
The discovery of over 100 bones included a skull and a full set of teeth, meaning that Stefania’s skeleton is thought to be the world’s most complete and best-preserved example of the species. She is believed to have been over 35 years old and to have measured 3m long, 1.8m tall at the withers and 1.6m tall at the rump. (The word withers can be defined as “The high part of the back of a horse or other quadruped, located between the shoulder blades.”)
In addition to reconstructing Stefania’s original skeleton, the team is 3D printing a full replica to exist alongside the original. It is unknown where the original and replica skeletons will be put, but places being considered include prominent locations at the university and Gorzów Wielkopolski, where the original was found.
Other examples of 3D printed fossil replicas involve Ohio University (OU). In November 2020, an international team of researchers led by OU’s Dr. Patrick O’Connor spoke of their work analysing the fossilised remains of a previously unknown species of Mesozoic Era bird. (The Mezosoic Era spans circa 252 million to 66 million years ago.) The bird was named Falcatakely, after a combination of Latin and Malagasy words inspired by its small size and sickle-shaped beak.
Individual bones were not removed from the rock the fossil was embedded in as they were too fragile. Instead, the team used 3D scanning and enlarged 3D printed digital models to reconstruct the bird’s skull for comparison with other species. OU argued that the fossil provided new evidence on how the skulls and beaks of birds and their close relatives have evolved. The team’s research was published in the journal Nature.
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Disclaimer: Featured image of “Clara 1749 Oudry” is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer.