The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and La Brea Tar Pits have teamed up with researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) to develop a series of scientifically-accurate 3D models of over a dozen animals from the Ice Age, including the enormous Columbian mammoth and terrifying saber-tooth tiger.
According to the team, scientific accuracy is often an afterthought when creating “paleoart,” artistic works depicting prehistoric life. As a result, many of the museums and exhibits we visit may often feature inaccurate replicas. It’s for this reason, as well as others, that the organizations partnered to create scientifically-accurate 3D models of 13 legendary animals brought to life using AR
In order to ensure users could access the AR animals on standard smartphones, the team went with a simplistic low-poly look. Don’t let the game-like visuals fool you, however. Not only is the appearance of each animal accurate, but their movements and behavior as well. The project was detailed in the recently-published study
. Palaeontologia Electronica
A 3D mastodon
“We think paleoart is a crucial part of paleontological research,” said Dr. Davis, lead author of the study. “That’s why we decided to publish all the scientific research and artistic decisions that went into creating these models. This will make it easier for other scientists and paleoartists to critique and build off our team’s work.”
“The innovation of this approach is that it allows us to create scientifically accurate artwork for the metaverse without overcommitting to details where we still lack good fossil evidence,” added Dr. Emily Lindsey, senior author of the study and assistant curator at La Brea Tar Pits. There are currently 13 Ice Age animals to check out:
Harlan’s ground sloth
Shasta gound sloth
The aforementioned AR models are available free to the public via a handful of apps, including Snapchat, Instagram, and Sketchfab.
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Credit: La Brea Tar Pits