Jurassic World Fossils Preserved With 3D Printing

jurassic world

The Jurassic world has seen great benefits from 3D scanning, modelling and printing. ALL3DP interviews a paleontologist about their work.

Juliane Hinz is a bio-geologist and paleontologist at the geosciences department at the University of Tuebingen. She’s been a PhD student since 2009, and works with 3D modelling applied to paleontological fields of research. 

Velociraptor Claw Jurassic World
3D Printed Velociraptor Claw

For her thesis, she’s used 3D models to compare the biomechanics of dinosaurs and mammals in the hip joint. Her work is very interdisciplinary, as it involves working with 3D construction and simulation programs, something not too dissimilar to those used to generate the CGI creatures that populate Jurassic World.

Hinz also has a Thingiverse account, where she’s uploaded 3D models of a Velociraptor clawAllosaurus claw and Baryonyx claw, along with a 3D model of a Saber-Tooth of a Smilodon, the saber-tooth cat. Everything is freely available to download and 3D print.

“I believe the scans we make should be available to the public,” says Hinz. “Science shouldn’t hide data behind closed doors. Especially not if it’s funded by the public. I am lucky to have access to huge scientific collections. If I make a scan, I feel I have to make it available online!”

Replication of Prehistoric Artefacts

“We can’t work with the fragile original bones, so we have to work with copies,” Hinz explains. “In our faculty, we’re all vertebrate paleontologists, and we acquired a 3D printer to produce replicas of the bone findings. Using the originals or their casts is a process that may damage the unique relics of bygone eras.”

Juliane Hinz demonstrates a 3D scanner to colleagues in Brazil (source: brasilienexkursion.wordpress.com)
Hinz demonstrates a 3D scanner to colleagues in Brazil

With the help of a 3D scanner, or sometimes a computer tomography in cooperation with the university hospital in Tuebingen, Hinz and her colleagues are able not only to reconstruct the skeletons and respective computer models for so-called biomechanics; they can also figure out possibilities of movement based on where tendons and muscles attached to the bones.

This leads to models that are able to precisely predict how a dinosaur walked, how far it could stretch its arms, if their posture was upright, and so on.

“Paleontology was a very theoretical discipline that only described findings decades ago. Now it’s a much more practical science,” says Hinz. “We simulate with computer models, and print out bone models we put together to functioning illustrative models. 3D scanning technology is a field that’s vital for scientific work all over the world.”

Regarding the upcoming release of Jurassic World, Hinz thinks the effect on the perception of paleobiology is a positive one. She often gives guided tours to school classes, which visit to view the dinosaur models, and popularity of films like ‘Jurassic World’ help to spark their interest.

On the other hand, the representations of these fierce creatures are not always scientifically plausible.”While our job is to reconstruct and simulate exact models, including factors such as altered gravity, animators only animate to get the right look,” she says. “They could basically animate a dinosaur with a spinning tail that hovers around like a helicopter. Movie dinosaurs are not science-based, in the main.”

3D Print Your Own Jurassic World

T-Rex Shower Head Jurassic World
3D Printed T-Rex Shower Head

If the models by Hinz have piqued your interest, there’re plenty more where those came from. Thingiverse has an Animatronic Dinosaur Skull, which can be programmed to sing/roar in time to “Jingle Bells”. Check out the video below.

Elsewhere, you can download and 3D print a T-Rex Shower Head. What better way to wake up in the morning, than staring down the dripping maw of the most terrible lizard to have ever stalked the Earth?

But if you’re really serious about your dinosaur fossils, you can also buy 3D printed replicas from Fossilera, including miniature Tyrannosaurus skulls that look just like the real thing. Except they’re smaller, and less likely to give you nightmares.

Image Sources: Thingiverse, Brasilien ExcursionHelmut Tischlinger / Mesozoic Vertebrates Blog