The British Geological Survey (BGS) is today launching the world’s first 3D virtual fossil collection to the public.
Thousands of 3D digital fossil models, plus several thousand quality images, many in 3D, can now be browsed and downloaded for free on a computer, tablet or phone.
The GB3D Type Fossils Online project, funded by Jisc, has rescued fossils from dusty drawers and made them available for academics, researchers and fossil enthusiasts to enjoy at their leisure.
To celebrate the launch, the BGS are running a free competition for the public at a number of museums around the country, the participating venues are:
- The Geological Walk, British Geological Survey, Nottingham
- British Geological Survey Information Office, Natural History Museum, London
- Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
- National Museum of Wales Amgueddfa Cymru, National Museum Cardiff
- Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Derbyshire
- Dorset County Museum
- Great North Museum, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter
- Nottingham Natural History Museum
- Warwickshire Museum
- Scarborough Museums Trust
- York Museums Trust
- Dinosaur Isle, Isle of Wight
- Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent
- Perth Museum
- Leeds City Museum
- Grosvenor Museum, Chester
- New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester
Over the next three weeks, visitors are invited to spot 3D-printed fossils among museum displays and enter a draw for VIP behind-the-scenes museum tours. One overall winner, drawn from all of the regional entries, will also receive a tablet computer pre-loaded with 3D fossils.
In the UK, fossil type specimens are stored in a number of locations across the country and there is no easy way to search across the many different catalogues. The GB3D Type Fossils Online project has developed a single database of type specimens, held in British collections, of macrofossil species and subspecies found in the UK. This includes links to photographs and laser scans of the best to produce a selection of 3D digital models.
The BGS has carried out the work in collaboration with its partners: The National Museum of Wales; The Sedgwick Museum Cambridge; The University Museum of Natural History Oxford; and the Curators’ Group, which represents a number of regional museums.
Professor John Ludden, executive director of the BGS, said:
“This work will provide an outstanding resource to geologists at all levels - researchers, university students, school students and amateurs for years to come’’.
Peter Findlay, programme manager at Jisc, said:
“A unified database of type-specimens is useful but, for it to be really useful, people need images of the physical items. 3D-printed models offer the opportunity to engage with a physical facsimile which can really transform someone’s understanding and at the same time reduce access costs and the need to handle originals.
As part of Jisc’s vision to provide simple and fast access to digital content, we’re delighted to fund this project, bringing these artefacts to life and into the hands of those fascinated by fossils”.
The competition closes on Thursday 12 September 2013, competition rules can be found on the project blog.