This Database Lets You 3D Print and Explore Thousands of Fossils

Illustration for article titled This Database Lets You 3D Print and Explore Thousands of Fossils

Fossils are three-dimensional objects, but you aren't really supposed to touch them, and you can't see their depth and detail very easily over the internet. But a new database of fossils from the British Geological Survey actually has the necessary files for you to 3D print fossils yourself.


The searchable database has thousands of images of fossils you can zoom in on, rotate, and interact with on your screen. And you can bring these old bones and artifacts into the physical realm too, thanks to downloadable .ply and .obj files you can use to 3D print them. You can search by period of time, type of fossil, species, genus, etc. to find all kinds of fossils. For example, here's a Pectinatites (a type of mollusk). And here's an interactive trilobite.

The British Geological Survey has an estimated three million specimens in its collection, so they haven't all made it online yet. But the group is adding more images every day, so if you don't see what you're looking for, be patient. This is great for anyone who's ever had trouble in the self-control department when it comes to touching things in a museum. Besides, it's not like they're ever going to get around putting all three million fossils on display. At least, though, you can 3D print the ones you want to know more about from your own computer and 3D printer. [3D-Fossils via The Atlantic]



Wow, if they do that for paleoanthropology, I have the perfect Christmas gift for my mother-in-law.

Yes, our family is that weird.