The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (CFDC) has just completed one more of the special projects it has been working on for a year.
With help from the Federal Canada Cultural Spaces Fund (Department of Canadian Heritage / Government of Canada) with $67,595 and the Provincial Building Sustainable Communities Program with $62,075 governments support, together with $6,600 coming from the Signature Museums Endowment Fund, plus other CFDC funds for a total investment of $139,723, a professional 3D System has been purchased and is already working on two very important projects.
A powerful, dedicated laptop Dell Precision 7780, a 3D scanner Peel3D, and a professional 3D Printer ProJet 6000 have already started the scanning, printing and reconstruction of the skull of the specimen type of the mosasaur Tylosaurus pembinensis, which belongs to the Miami Museum, and it is currently on loan at the CFDC for this special project.
But first, Executive Director Adolfo Cuetara said they have 3D printed a reconstruction of a quadrate fossil to fill in a missing part of the famous “Bruce the Mosasaur” on display at the CFDC.
"In this case, we have a complete one from Bruce. It is quite amazing. So, the replica that we have in the museum doesn't have this quadrate in the replica, so we are scanning this one, printing the left and the right side and we are going to install this into Bruce's replica so. It's going to be a better assembly than it is today.”
This was a bit of an amazing find, noted Cuetara and the investment in this equipment is already paying off.
"Bruce, the replica, was made almost 30 years ago, and this bone specifically was not together with the rest of the bones of Bruce, so it was misplaced in the collections room, and we found it. And this is the original quadrate. So, we are improving the replica from Bruce, thanks to this technology."
There is another piece on loan from the Miami Museum which Cuetara is all too familiar with. In 2017, he removed the plaster put on the bones in the 1970s in an attempt to rebuild the skeleton. He cleaned the full skeleton of the mosasaur Tylosaurus pembinensis, which is the same species as Bruce.
"And we've borrowed this skull from the Miami Museum to scan all the bones and with the software we want to reconstruct all the bones that are missing. At the end, we will have a complete reconstruction of the full skull. So, this is our collaboration with the Miami Museum. And at the end, they will be able to have a complete reconstructed replica and we will have another one for the museum."
The project does not end there. Cuetara explained the fossil will then be used for research.
"After this process, there is a graduate student in the University of Manitoba that is now starting a reconstruction of the Tylosaurus pembinensis species. He is coming here with the direction of Kirsten Brink, a Paleontologist at the University of Manitoba. He'll be doing the research with her supervision to make the reconstruction, because after the cleaning process, we found new bones that were not in the original paper. So, it's going to be great."
The new printer and the making of new pieces will be added to the visitor experience, allowing museum patrons to watch the printing of the fossils in action. It will continue to be used for on-going and new research projects as new fossils are uncovered at the dig site.
Cuetara said the summer dig tour schedule was very successful and announced next year, visitors will have a new fossil to uncover just a few hundred yards from the mosasaur diggers were able to uncover this summer.
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Here is a sneak peek at the new equipment at the CFDC.