One of the greatest benefits from the world going digital and online is the convenience factor, as many of our daily (sometimes) mundane rituals can now be completed within a single web browsing session. Not everyone has been so keen on moving their services to the world of the internet, however, and despite several examples of progressive work in this field, many in the preservation sector continue to rely on the old model alone — independent collections that are only accessible via a personal physical visit to the respective facilities, which host the sought after pieces of history. Despite many institutions’ sometimes understandable reticence to move with the times, technological progress is spreading into new areas, as the most recent example from the United Kingdom proves.

The project is called GB3D Type Fossils Online and its purpose is to serve as an umbrella collection – a unified single 2D/3D database of macrofossil species and subspecies that originate from the British Isles, which are currently physically showcased in various UK institutions – for both interested laymen and academics alike. The collection, which was just launched last month, doesn’t yet have 3D scans of all fossils, hence the 2D/3D labelling. What the collection does have is comprehensive information on all of the hosted objects regarding the relevant specs such as the name, the taxonomic group and so on.

When a fossil has been provided in 3D form, it can be downloaded as either a PLY or OBJ file or opened in the browser, so for example the recreation of a Jurassic era fossil could be done in the comfort of your own home, assuming a 3D printer is available. The provided 2D images are in hi-res JP2 format, so even if you’re not planning to 3D print some prehistoric fossils to surprise both your kids and parents, the potential for a new desktop wallpaper is there. Many of the showcased specimens are also provided as stereo photographs, which can be viewed properly with ‘3D’ glasses with red/cyan lenses. Before hitting the source link for a look at what the collection holds more specifically, below is a video of some of the fossils in the collection.

Source: GB3D Type Fossils Online

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