3D Printing an Extinct Mollusk

I don’t want GATM to become ALL 3D PRINTING ALL THE TIME!, but I just love this stuff. A mollusk known as “Protobalanus spinicoronatus” went extinct about 390 million years ago. The little critter had an impressive ring of spikes for protection, and a single suction foot. The fossils are all fragmentary, and thus paleontologists were unsure exactly how they related to other armored mollusks. (And by the way: Armored Mollusks would be a great name for a rock band.) So they printed one:

To find out, a team of researchers used a micro computed-tomography (CT) scan on fossilized fragments of the prehistoric mollusk found in Ohio 10 years ago. The scan gave the scientists an animated view of the creature’s shells and spines in their original position; the researchers also used the scan to create a three-dimensional cast of the animal in its reconstructed shape. With this information, along with details on living relatives of this mollusk group, the researchers created a multicolored, textured model made of clay, resin and silicone. The result: a view of what the mollusk looked like millions of years ago.

Too cool. Read the rest.


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Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • victor

    “We spared no expense.”

    Actually, it’s too bad they can’t make it come to life now. If they could, that would really get me excited about 3D printing.