3D Scanning Applications: Recreating a Fossil Gravesite

What do you do when you stumble on a mysterious whale graveyard, but the construction workers have to keep on building? You scan and 3D print the scene, naturally! That’s what researchers in Chile did recently, after construction unearthed a graveyard of more than 40 whale fossils. Scientists wanted to be able to peruse the scene, but construction on the Pan-American Highway also had to continue; the solution they found was to bring the Smithsonian Digitization program to create a 3D scan of the graveyard. With the scan in place, they could quickly move fossils out of the way to a nearby museum, but still be able to fully visualize – and create a 3D printed replica of – the original site without having to rush against construction deadlines.

“[W]e might have the information to questions that scientists haven’t yet had the opportunity to ask,” said Adam Metallo, 3D digitization program officer at the Smithsonian.


Well, we may not all be able to play with the finished product, but the Smithsonian Institute has kindly made a 360 tour available to anyone online. Explore the Cerro Ballena dig site here: http://cerroballena.si.edu/

If you want to learn more about 3D printers, we’ve got you covered too – check us out at www.cati.com 

And if you were wondering what killed all those fossilized whales? Probably toxic algae.

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