A new virtual museum reveals 600 million years of Australian fossils in unprecedented 3D detail
It combines aspects of geology with biology and many other scientific disciplines.
- It combines aspects of geology with biology and many other scientific disciplines.
- Precise scans of the internal and external features of fossils let us see them in new ways.
- At the new Virtual Australian Museum of Palaeontology, we offer free access to 600 million years of digital Australian fossils, from enigmatic early lifeforms to gigantic extinct marsupials.
How do palaeontologists learn about the past?
- The field of palaeontology was formally solidified into scientific enquiry by people such as Georges Cuvier (1769-1832).
- Others such as the Scottish geologist Charles Lyell (1797-1875) gave us the geological framework through which fossils could be classified and compared.
- Records of long-extinct animals also survive in the rock art and oral traditions of First Nations peoples.
How to scan a fossil
- Computed tomography, or CT scanning, uses x-rays to create three-dimensional models of the internal and external features of dense objects.
- Other imaging methods include photogrammetry, or surface scanning using lasers or projected patterns of light.
- They also have the advantage of being more portable and can often be taken directly to the fossil.
About the museum
- We are a group of researchers at Flinders University, working with the South Australian Museum, the Western Australian Museum, and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
- Between us, we have spent many hours scanning, processing and uploading hundreds of three-dimensional virtual models.
- We have scans of some of the earliest complex life from Ediacaran and Cambrian sites from over 500 million years ago.
You can explore the VAMP website yourself. All you need to dig into a world of 3D fossil scans is a computer or a smartphone. Alice Clement receives funding from the Australian Research Council and is employed by Flinders University. Aaron Camens works for Flinders University.