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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Virtual Museum

Virtual Museum Rings Thousands of Digital Specimens to the Desktop in 3-D

Robin A. Smith | February 22, 2016

Duke assistant professor Doug Boyer's office is more than 8,000 miles away from the vault at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the fossil remains of a newly discovered human ancestor, Homo naledi, rest under lock and key.
But with a few clicks of his computer's mouse, he can have models of any one of hundreds of naledi bone fragments delivered to his desk in a matter of minutes.
Paleontologists like Boyer frequently travel halfway around the world to examine such unique and fragile specimens. That is, assuming their curators will even allow such access.
But the Homo naledi specimens are a different story. They, and hundreds of other species, are now available in a free online database of digital scans that anyone can download and print in 3-D.
MorphoSource, which Boyer launched at Duke in 2013, is the largest and most open digital fossil repository of its kind.
"We're essentially taking bones out of museum catacombs and putting them online," Boyer said.

Foot of Daubentonia madagscariensis scanned at 38micron resolution at Duke Evolutionary Anthropology department's new high resolution microCt facility. Source:

<more at; related links and articles: (Morpho Source website) and (MorphoSource: An open-access, project-based web-archive where researchers and museums can share and access 3D morphological datasets. February 19, 2015)>

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