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VCU Archaeology

Return to the Valley of the Mastodons

by Bernard K. Means

Just one month ago, I joined a group of paleontologists, science communicators, and a poet for the Valley of the Mastodons conference and  workshop at the Western Science Center. This innovative endeavor was designed to  conduct scientific research in a public setting that enabled any museum visitor to interact with the research as it was taking place, as you  can read about here. During the workshop portion of the Valley of the Mastodons, I used our trusty NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner to make 3D digital models of mastodon and  Ice Age bison remains, aided by Western  Center Academy student Aubree Coelho.

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During this same workshop, Chris Widga of East Tennessee State University used his 3D scanner to record larger items that are impractical for the NextEngine 3D scanner.

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Keeping in the spirit of the Valley of the Mastodons public science goals, Chris and I have worked over the last month to edit our 3D models and make them freely available, thanks to the generous permission granted by Alton  Dooley, Executive Director of the Western Science Center.  You can find my models here: https://sketchfab.com/virtualcurationlab/collections/valley-of-the-mastodons and Chris’s models here: https://sketchfab.com/ETMNH/collections/valley-of-the-mastodons. We live in a time fueled by anti-science hysteria, so I hope that this conference and workshop model, and the free and open access online to its major findings becomes more common across all the sciences.

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