3D Printed Psittacosaurus dinosaur. Source: Jason Adams on flickr.com
3D Printed Psittacosaurus dinosaur. Source: Jason Adams on flickr.com

A species of dinosaurs that were thought to be three separate species have been 3D scanned and determined to be only one: Psittacosaurus, the parrot lizard. The mistake of three species classifications came from physical examination of the bones, which had been crushed and compressed in different ways according to how the dinosaurs had died and were buried. Point data from 3D scans on the different bones found that they were in fact the same species. This discovery brings up interesting questions: What else could we scan to make new discoveries.

Scientists and explorers have always been driven to explore our world and make discoveries. Now, however, it is worth taking a second look at previously discovered artifacts now sitting in our museums and archives. Archaeologists are using 3D scanners and CAT scans to digitally unwrap mummies without damaging the physical remains. These scans can be used to create miniature models of artifacts to be examined while keeping the integrity of the objects intact.

3D scanning shipwrecks may provide additional data that cannot be otherwise gathered. Other objects are up for grabs to 3D scan and determine similarities and authenticity. Ancient coins could be digitally scanned and examined, using technology to reproduce possible text or symbols that have been worn down or damaged.

Previous ideas and conceptions can be reexamined with the eyes of the 21st century. Data points, such as used on the parrot lizard, could be used to compare ancient artifacts and antiques to gather evidence. If a buyer would like to closely examine an artifact at his or her leisure, a 3D scan can be made and the buyer can peruse the object and take as much time as needed to make a decision. Students can use 3D scans and 3D printed models to learn and examine ancient objects up close and get an up-close-and-personal look at history. 3D printed artifacts could also be available as gifts and souvenirs as a unique reminder of the museum. 

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