Scientists in the U.S. and a specialist in Denmark have created a lifelike model of an ancient mollusk using a 3D printer. The mollusk, a type of multiplacophoran called Protobalanus spinicoronatus, is a oval-shaped sea creature what lived about 390 million years ago.
This "less than an inch long" creature was covered with stiff plates and surrounded by a ring of spines. Using a micro CT scan researchers created a 3D view of the fossil based on a prehistoric mollusk discovered in 2001 in northern Ohio. "Partially covered in rock, the animal's shell and spikes had become fragmented as it decayed."
Researchers pieced the broken fragments of the digital fossil back together. The CT scan gave an animated view of the original position of the creature's shells and spines.
The reconstruction revealed that the interlocking plates that made up the creature's armor were actually arranged in two parallel rows, instead of one long row—the first step in re-creating what team member Esben Horn likens to a "movie monster."
The CT scan also allows researchers to produce a multicolored, textured model in clay, resin and silicone showing how the creature looked, and how it crawled with a single, suction-like foot millions years ago.
The 3D model is enlarged it by about 12 times until it could be held in the palm of a hand and touched with fingers.
"We can now demonstrate that multiplacophorans are distant relatives of the modern chitons, which did not evolve until later in Earth history," said Jakob Vinther, a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences. "We can also show that they evolved a number of characteristics seen in some modern chitons convergently."
The new mollusk model and reconstruction is detailed in the Sept. 18 in the journal Paleontology.
Source: National Geographic
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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