Nov 9, 2015 | By Benedict

Here’s a 3D print we haven’t seen before. Fans of North American folklore and additive manufacturing finally have something to shout about, after academics at the Idaho State University Robotics and Communication Systems Engineering Technology program built an 8-foot-tall, 3D printed model of Bigfoot's skeleton using a set of 3D printers. The 3D printed model has been constructed for the Bigfoot Captured documentary, set to premiere on the History Channel tonight, Monday November 9th.

“To actually stand next to it was really, really quite amazing,” said ISU anthropology and anatomy professor Jeff Meldrum, regarding the 3D printed skeleton, who has incorporated Bigfoot into his academic endeavours previously. “Even this was a bit of an academic exercise because obviously everything is just inferential, but what it conveys is that otherwise difficult-to-imagine sensation or impression of standing next to a skeleton that’s 8 feet tall. I mean it’s huge—massive.”

Prof. Jeff Meldrum (left), with a non-3D-printed model of Bigfoot

The enormous scale of the 3D printed model is just one of the reasons why such a strong legend has been constructed around the (possibly) mythical creature. The hulking beast has allegedly been sighted thousands of times, largely in the Pacific Northwest, but there was of course no Bigfoot skeleton for Meldrum and his team to 3D scan and print. Instead, the 3D printed model was based on real but extinct animals such as the Gigantopithecus blacki, a colossal ancient ape, twice the size of those seen today, and the Neanderthal, extinct for 40 millennia.

A Neanderthal skeleton provided the initial 3D image, which was then digitally manipulated to resemble the world’s most resounding image of Bigfoot, drawn from the Patterson-Gimlin film of 1967. That film is perhaps the most widely circulated and discussed “document” of the infamous creature, with countless attempts made to either authenticate and debunk it. To make the Neanderthal look more like the “creature” shown in the film clip, the academics performed various adjustments. “They made the shoulders much broader, the torso thicker, the arms longer, the legs the right proportion,” Meldrum explained. “Then we took the Neanderthal skull away because it’s more human-like.” The skull was replaced by that of a Paranthropus boisei, an ape-like creature found in eastern Africa until approximately 1.2 million years ago.

With the Frankenstein-like combination of the two extinct species, Meldrum and his team were satisfied with their 3D design. “We came up with a pretty interesting model, one that agreed with the creature that was depicted in the Patterson-Gimlin film,” Meldrum said. The next challenge was perhaps the biggest of all: to 3D print Bigfoot!

The 3D printing of the Bigfoot model took 1,600 hours, and required the use of 3D printers from all over the state of Idaho, as well as one from Washington. Each 3D printer was assigned a particular set of body parts, which were later collected by the team for assembly. The 3D printed creature will be shown on the documentary this evening. “I got filmed in the show showing and talking about the process of printing, how it works and also on building the skeleton,” said Garen Call, an assistant in ISU’s robotics and communications program.

“I’m delighted these departments were not only interested, but willing to participate in an exercise that I hope will be insightful and informative, and in pursuing this fascinating question of the potential of the existence of a relic hominoid species,” Meldrum condluded.

Tune in to the program tonight and decide for yourself whether the 3D printed model looks like the “real thing” or not! Perhaps the project will inspire a new generation of 3D printed Bigfoot hoaxes…



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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