3D Printing

Explore, Download & 3D Print Recently Discovered Tools From 3.3 Million Years Ago

What are some of the most common tools used by members of the human race today?  Computers are probably the most sophisticated tools we’ve ever built for ourselves.  They’re so sophisticated and easy to use that we’ve begun to see them as an extension of ourselves.  But they are tools,  and like primates, they’ve evolved considerably over time.  But there is always going to be more information to uncover and quantify.  Recently in Kenya, the oldest stone tools known to man were discovered.  These tools were used 3.3 million years ago, extending the archaeological record backward in time 700,000 years. You can read about these findings in Nature Magazine  (May 20, 2015).  An interesting juxtaposition is how new Autodesk 3D technology is making these discoveries available to everyone.

Dr. Louise Leakey  continues to collaborate with Autodesk, and they recently announced that “Memento was used to create high quality 3D digital replicas of the stone tool artifacts, for preservation, education and further research.”If you haven’t heard of Memento, this should spark your interest: it’s free software that allows users to transform photos or scans into 3D models.  These can be optimized for websites, mobile-viewing and 3D printing.  The following images are taken from the May 26th, 2015 In The Fold blog post and feature the Autodesk Viewer.  Together, they represent a unique blend of 21st century and Pliocene technology:

1One of the oldest tools known to man. Discovered by scientists in Kenya, the stone tools date back to 3.3 million years.  Click here to view and interact with the stone tool in 3D.2
Another of the archaeological finds, discovered by scientists in Kenya.  Using Autodesk Memento technology to prepare the models, the stone tools were digitized, enabling everyone in the world to view and interact with them online. Click here to view and interact with the stone tool in 3D.3
The discovery of the stone tools pushes the archaeological record back 700,000 years, a significant scientific milestone. Click here to view and interact with the stone tool in 3D.   4Click here to view the excavation site in Kenya where the 3.3 million year old tools where discovered. The site was captured with a Sony camera mounted on a kite and converted into a 3D model in Memento.  5
 Click here to view video of how scientists pieced the stone tools together. 

“Autodesk Memento has been instrumental in my work, allowing me to share fascinating evidence of human evolution with people around the world,” Leakey said.  “Memento is powerful, yet simple enough for a non-CAD expert to use.  It has allowed me to operate everything on my own, without relying on a team member or CAD expert, which suits my hands-on style of working.”

Dr. Louise Leakey pictured at her laboratory in Kenya. 

“Powerful technologies are accessible to everyone today, but due to complexity often people can’t use the tools themselves, unless they’ve had extensive training or have a software background,” said Tatjana Dzambazova, product manager and ‘technology whisperer’ at Autodesk. “Memento is a tool for digitizing real objects that any professional can use.  It combines multiple technology tools in one single workflow.  It’s easy and fun to use, scalable and has a toolset to prepare high definition 3D digital models made from reality for many different use cases and purposes.”

We’ve written about African Fossils a few times at 3DPI.   It’s a great web destination for anyone to explore, download, and 3D print the models. Scientists can also enter research discussions with the Turkana Basin Institute and Leakey’s team.  There are more than 100 fossils available right now, and models are being uploaded daily.

Check out the In The Fold to see how the collaboration between Leakey and Autodesk began back in 2011.