What do you do if you don't have a breathtaking room full of ancient bones and fossils? You get yourself a 3D printer and start downloading files from African Fossils, an online archive of prehistoric East African artifacts. No pith helmet required.
With over 40 digitized fossils in their collection, you can explore 3D renders of fossils representing prehistoric animals, human ancestors, and even ancient tools. Captured using Autodesk software, an SLR camera, and often the original specimen (rather than a cast replica), these renderings bring us closer than most will ever get to holding ancient artifacts. And if you've got an additive manufacturing device at your disposal, you can even download plans on Sketchfab to generate your own. Take a look!
There's something strangely invigorating about the notion that modern technology and the power of the internet can let you hold a strikingly accurate replica of a 20-million-year-old fossil in your hand. It's not the first time accurate representations of ancient artifacts have been 3D-printed—Cornell's Hod Lipson has experimented with 3D-printing cuneiform tablets, and Harvard's Semitic Museum began repairing some of its artifacts with 3D printers last year—but, whether you're a serious bonehead or just casually curious, flip through the gallery and take a look at how far we've come. [H/T Ron Golan/@sketchfab]