Oh heck yeah! This is one of the coolest things I’ve read in a long time. Paleontologists at Drexel University are using a 3-D printer to turn fossilized dinosaur bones into robotic dinosaurs, how freaking awesome is that! This team of paleontologists was fed up with using the traditional tools of the trade, which include things like plaster, burlap, and pickaxes. These guys wanted something modern to give them a better understanding of how dinosaurs lived and moved.
“Technology in paleontology hasn’t changed in about 150 years,” said Drexel paleontologist Dr. Kenneth Lacovara. “We use shovels and pickaxes and burlap and plaster. It hasn’t changed — until right now.”
Lacovara is working with Dr. James Tangorra to improve the tools used in paleontology and integrate the 3-D scanning of fossils into the university’s collection. The replicas will be used in museums and as teaching aids that can be handled whereas the ancient real bones could be fragile and are irreplaceable if damaged.
The coolest thing to me about this whole process is that the scientists can take these 3-D printed bones and fossils and 10 integrate them with robotic systems to be able to see how the dinosaurs actually moved around the earth millions of years ago. The scientists hope to have completed a full 3-D robotic dinosaur limb with muscles and tendons by the end of the year. The goal after that fully robotic limb is complete is to build a complete robotic dinosaur replica. I wonder which dinosaur they will attempt to replicate. I’m sure it will be a smaller dinosaur, I’m hoping for the raptor!
“We don’t know a lot about the way dinosaurs move,” Lacovara said. “How did they stand? How did they ambulate? Did they run or trot? How did they reproduce? It’s all a bit mysterious.”