“Because the date [of Homo naledi] is unknown,” Jennifer explained, “we can use those traits to look and see if they’re similar [to the Homo sapiens fossils from Klasies River Mouth].
And if they are similar, then they are likely to be of a similar time period or age.” This is important, as it would help us better understand where on the evolutionary chain Homo naledi can be found, and therefore, what physical attributes and possible social behavior developed when.
“The ones that we use are accurate to .2 millimeter difference.
So we would have to factor in that amount of error into any of our analyses.” “When we’re looking at the 3D-printed [fossils],” she continued, “they no longer have the coloring that the [original] fossils would have, which can also sometimes better indicate any dips or grooves or mounds.
The distribution of the different geological units and flowstones is shown together with the inferred distribution of fossil material.
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“My professor and I,” said Jennifer, referring to Rachel Caspari, “as long as we’ve known about this species, we’ve always been interested in it.” But the path to actually studying Homo naledi didn’t appear until this past October, when Central Michigan University opened its Makerbot Innovation Center, making it unique amongst public Midwest universities.And then I discovered a Forensic Anthropology course that was being offered at CMU, and I decided to give that a try.Once I did, I realized that it was very similar; there were a lot of things that were exactly like what they portrayed on TV.Having access to physical replicas of the originals is, indeed, exciting, but one wonders what challenges this might also present.“3D printers can only be so accurate,” Jennifer replied.Tagged 3-D fossils, 3-D printing, 3D fossils, 3D Printing, American Anthropological Association, anthropologists, anthropology, archaeologists, Bones TV Show, Central Michigan University, CMU, digital scanning, Dinaledi Chamber, evolution, forensic anthropology, Fossils, hominins, Homo naledi, Homo sapiens, Jennifer Webb, Kathy Reichs, Klasies River Mouth, Maker Bot Innovation Center, Morphosource, paleontologists, Pleistocene, Rachel Caspari, Rachel Esterline Perkins, Rachel Perkins, South Africa Right now, in Michigan, an undergrad is studying the contours of fossils found half way around the world.Fossils that, in fact, continue to reside in their country of origin: South Africa.Jennifer Webb, with help from her advisor, Rachel Caspari, has been comparing 3D replicas of the famous Homo naledi fossils discovered in 2013 to the casts of early Homo sapiens fossils found in the 1960s and 1980s.Both sets of fossils were found in South Africa: Homo naledi in the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave, and Homo sapiens at Klasies River Mouth. Jennifer’s goal: to determine the age of the Homo naledi fossils by comparing their physical attributes to this set of Homo sapiens fossils.And with access to 3D printers, Jennifer was able to make use of the digital scans and images provided on Regular 2D printing has become so fast, so cheap, and so easy.