Print your own 3D dinosaur skull at home

Dinosaur fossil 3D reconstruction

Dinosaur fossil 3D reconstruction

"This means any researcher or member of the public can print their own Massospondylus skull at home", Chapelle told Eureka Alert.

Within paleontology and related fields, 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies are taking on an increasing significance.

The dinosaur itself, which existed roughly 200 million years ago, was first discovered in South Africa in 1854 by paleontologist Sir Richard Owen. This is where Chapelle, a PhD student at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa (Wits), enters the stage. She managed to digitally rebuild every bone of Massospondylus's cranium, even revealing details such as nerves exiting the brain and the balance organs of the inner ear.

While it might not be the extent of recreating dinosaurs on the scale of Jurassic Park, archeology fans can now make their own copies of a dinosaur skull with the help of an average 3-D printer. Enthusiasts can download a surface file of the skull to create a 3D print.

Paleontologists from South Africa have made a digital reconstruction of a dinosaur's skull, which is 200 million years old.

Chapelle noted a few interesting elements to how this particular dino's skull is constructed, including that the bones surrounding the brain on the Massospondylus's skull were not fully fused.

The bones of the braincase are not fully fused, which means that this particular fossil is that of an individual that is not fully grown yet.

The profile view of the Massospondylus skull after being scanned.

"I was amazed when I started digitally reconstructing Massospondylus' skull, and found all these features that had never been described", the researcher said.

South Africa has been home to some pretty incredible finds for dinosaur researchers. Researchers have long debated its diet and lifestyle, though recent studies strongly suggest that it was herbivorous or omnivorous, not carnivorous. It shows that scientists have much more to learn about this dinosaur. Image credits: Matt Martyniuk / Dinoguy2.

"By comparing the inner ear to that of other dinosaurs, we can try and interpret things like how they held their heads and how they moved", Chapelle explained. "I'll be using scans of other specimens to answer new questions", she said "For example, how did Massospondylus babies weighing less than 100g grow up to be half-tonne adults?" "You can actually see tiny replacement teeth in the bones of the jaws, showing us that Massospondylus continuously replaced its teeth, like crocodiles do, but unlike humans that can only do it once", Chapelle said.

Journal Reference: Kimberley E.J. Chapelle, Jonah N. Choiniere.

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