Jan 15, 2016 | By Tess
Most of you will remember that only days ago the BBC announced it was releasing a new David Attenborough documentary about the largest dinosaur ever found, a new species of Titanosaur that would have weighed more than 70 tons (about the weight of 35 cars!). Well, if you’re like me and were excited to view the documentary to get an idea as to the amazing size of the extinct creature, you’ll be especially excited to hear that the American Museum of Natural History in New York City has just today unveiled a 3D printed, life-size cast of the gigantic dinosaur’s skeleton for public audiences.
The fossils of the new species of Titanosaur were found in 2014 in the sparsely populated region of Patagonia, Argentina, and took two years to excavate, cast, and assemble to be ready for the public. Paleontologist Diego Pol, who was a lead scientist during the dinosaur’s excavation, says, “We think that it is [the biggest dinosaur]. The South American dinosaurs have achieved the largest sizes among all titanosaurs.”
In fact, the dinosaur is so big that its skeleton, which measures an impressive 122 feet (37.2 meters) in length, won’t even fit into an exhibition room at the American Museum of Natural History. Curators had to curl its tail, bend its knees, and extend its long neck into the corridor outside the 4th floor gallery where the new titanosaur will be exhibited.
The skeleton cast itself took more than half a year to create, as a team from Research Casting International (RCI), a Canadian company specializing in the casting of fossilized bones, worked in collaboration with Argentina’s Museo Palenontológico Egidio Feruglio to complete the casting and assembly.
The process involved in casting and making the lifesize skeleton for display involved several complex processes, including 3D scanning the found fossils, creating a 3D image of the dinosaur’s assembled skeleton, and 3D printing the models of the bones from a lightweight Fiberglass material. The latter had to be done because mounting the original fossils would be impossible because of their weight - some of the fossils will be mounted individually in the museum, however.
Because paleontologists were only able to uncover 70% of the ancient creature’s bones (an impressive amount, by any measure), the missing bones were recreated and modeled after bones belonging to close relatives of the titanosaur. The casted skeleton that is being unveiled today consists of replicas of 84 of the titanosaur’s excavated bones.
Mark Norell, a paleontologist and curator at the American Museum of Natural History says of the dinosaur’s size, “Every time we think we’ve found the biggest one, someone finds a bigger one. We are getting close though, I think.” Whether another find will prove that there was a bigger dinosaur in existence, we do not know, but it would be a feat to try and fit an even bigger skeleton into the museum one day!
The casted Titanosaur skeleton will be part of the museum’s permanent exhibition, so if you are in the New York City area, go check out the amazing dinosaur. And if not, you can still tune in for the BBC’s new documentary “Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur: The Story of the Discovery of the Largest known Dinosaur,” which details the discovery, excavation, casting, and assembly of the recently found dinosaur. The documentary will air on January 24th, 2016.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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