How do you handle a dinosaur over 30 meters long and weighing more than 80 tons? Easy: just make it smaller.
This is what Kenneth Lacovara, an American paleontologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, is doing. His idea is to build a scale and robotized model of a large sauro by printing his bones with a 3D printer of those commonly used in industrial modeling processes.
King size dinosaur
Lacovara will use a laser scanner to acquire images of the fossilized bones of a Paralititan stromeri, a large titanosaurid sauropod of the Cretaceous who lived in Africa 90 million years ago. It is one of the largest dinosaurs ever existed: up to 33 meters long - as much as 3 buses lined up - it could exceed 80 tons in weight.
"This is a new frontier of paleontology: it will allow us to study how these creatures moved, fed and reproduced, " explains the scientist.
Lacovara and his colleagues have already printed some bones of their model: now they will have to repress them with tendons and muscles before they can insert motors and controls. Scientists expect to have the first robot working by the end of the year.
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Matter of resistance
However, the American paleontologist is not the only one to follow the path of 3D modeling for the study of fossils: the Canadian Museum of Nature of Ontario has already created its own three-dimensional modeling laboratory to study not only the movements of dinosaurs but also those of our most ancient ancestors.
Until now this type of research has been carried out by making plaster casts of the bones to be studied, but these are slow procedures that allow us to have copies that can be used only 5 or 6 times: the plastic printing of the models should be much less expensive both in terms of time and money.
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