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Faunal Identification Using 3D Scanning and Printing?

by Bernard K. Means

At last week’s Society for American Archaeology meeting, I was a co-author of a paper that presented on efforts led by Bruce Manzano and his colleagues to develop a way to identify animal bones from digital scans and using geometric morphometrics. Here is the abstract for the talk.

Identification Using 3D Scanning and Printing?

Bruce L. Manzano, Thomas Royster, Bernard Means, and George Crothers

Recent developments in 3D scanning and printing are used increasingly more in zooarchaeology. Our research takes the use of 3D technology further by attempting to develop a method that will enable the identification of bones based on 3D scans.  This exploratory approach uses a series of standardized measurements on 3D scans of key skeletal elements to determine the statistical probability for the best fit of an unknown bone to known comparative materials.  An example of this approach is shown with the 3D database generated on key elements of the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus), gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), and rock dove (Columba livia).

Below is a copy of our presentation.

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As part of this current paper, we worked to 3D scan guinea pig bones provided by Bruce. Some of these as well as other bones are freely downloadable here: https://sketchfab.com/virtualcurationlab/collections/zooarchaeology. You will hear more about this project in the coming months.