Accessing real fossil skeletons can be a challenge to many educators – usually resulting in a school trip to the local museum who keep such relics from the dinosaur periods out-of-reach of visitors to preserve the bones for future generations. However, the University of Michigan has created an ‘Online Repository Fossils’ website that uses technology that allows close examination of dinosaur skeletons, easily navigable using a 3D platform.
Paleontologist Daniel Fisher and his students began digitally scanning the images more than 20 years ago. But only recently have technological advances enabled the museum to place hundreds of them on the website, with a promise of further additions to the resource over the next couple of months and years.
Fisher says the site initially was intended to help professionals identify fossils, but also will help students and the general public. Users can manipulate the fossils onscreen as if holding them in their hands.
The website claims,
We hope to serve a range of different user communities. One of our goals is to provide internet access to our Type and Figured Collection – specimens that have been the basis for descriptions of new species and new interpretations of known species of extinct organisms. These are some of the most frequently consulted specimens in our collections, and providing access to students and researchers around the world will greatly enhance the usefulness of this material.