Main content area

Digitizing, modelling and 3D printing of skeletal digital models of Palaeoloxodon tiliensis (Tilos, Dodecanese, Greece)

Mitsopoulou, Vassiliki, Michailidis, Dimitrios, Theodorou, Evangelos, Isidorou, Stylianos, Roussiakis, Socrates, Vasilopoulos, Theodoros, Polydoras, Stamatios, Kaisarlis, Georgios, Spitas, Vasileios, Stathopoulou, Elizabeth, Provatidis, Christophoros, Theodorou, George
Quaternary international 2015 v.379 pp. 4-13
allometry, color, computed tomography, engineering, fossils, image analysis, models, risk, schools, universities, Greece
Charkadio Cave, on Tilos Island, is one of the richest Mediterranean fossiliferous sites, preserving remains of the dwarf elephant Palaeoloxodon tiliensis. This species is considered to be the last European elephant. Recent advances in the fields of engineering and imaging technology and their applications in palaeontology have allowed the digitization, modelling and 3D printing of skeletal remains of P. tiliensis for the first time. Taphonomical data were combined with appropriate mathematical methods and allometric analyses in order to determine missing bone measurements and estimate correct relative proportions of skeletal elements. Computed Tomography and non-contact digitization via Laser Scanning were used in order to capture the specimens' surface morphology and create 3D models that are adjusted to the correct dimensions derived from the mathematical analyses. The 3D models were then 3D printed with the use of Rapid Prototyping technologies. A research potential of fossil 3D modeling could be its application in morphological comparisons between different taxa. In this study, atlas 3D models of P. tiliensis and Palaeoloxodon antiquus (Falconer and Cautley, 1847) have been combined in a single 3D model that quantifies morphological differences by a color scale, thus minimizing observation error. 3D models and 3D printed replicas facilitate and enhance inter-institutional scientific interaction, minimizing costs and risks related to the transfer of irreplaceable fossil specimens. Finally, a positive outcome related to the above research could be its application in educational activities hosted in institutes such as schools, universities and museums.