Researchers Reconstruct Ancient Mollusk Using CT Scan and 3D Printer

Posted on September 21, 2012

Researchers have created a lifelike reconstruction of an ancient mollusk using a micro CT scan and a 3D printer. The oval-shaped multiplacophoran (Protobalanus spinicoronatus) lived about 390 million years ago. The researchers say the creature crawled on its single, suction-like foot over shells and rocky surfaces in ancient oceans.

Jakob Vinther, a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences, collaborated with Esben Horn, owner of the model making company 10 Tons in Copenhagen, and Ryan Carney, a doctoral student at Brown University, to create the model of the ancient creature. The model is based on a fossil discovered 10 years ago in Ohio by private collector and co-author George Kampouris.

This animation shows how a CT scan was used to create the spines and plate structure of the multiplacophoran. The animation was created by Ryan Carney based on the research by Jakob Vinther. A National Geographic story contains a longer video explaining how the ancient mollusk was recreated with 3D printing. Take a look:

Vinther said in a release, "We can now demonstrate that multiplacophorans are distant relatives of the modern chitons, which did not evolve until later in Earth history. We can also show that they evolved a number of characteristics seen in some modern chitons convergently."

The research was published here in the journal Palaeontology.

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