Aquilops wants to play

December 28, 2014

Here are three fun things to do with Aquilops, in descending order of how much gear they require.

Aquilops printed fossil skull

1. Print your own Aquilops fossil.

Got access to a 3D printer? Download the 3D models of the holotype skull, OMNH 34557, that we published as supplementary info with the paper, and rock out. Here’s a test print that the guys in our scientific visualization center made for me. I gotta tell you, after 18 and a half years of sauropods, it’s very satisfying to have a holotype I can shove in my pocket. UPDATE a few weeks later: read Zach Miller’s post about his 3D-printed Aquilops holotype, it’s cool.

Want a bigger challenge? If you printed it in steel or titanium, it would probably make a decent bottle opener. Just sayin’.

Aquilops paper skull assembled2. Cut and fold your own Aquilops skull.

Got access to a regular printer? Download these files, print, cut, fold, and enjoy:

Aquilops cut-and-fold – 2 small skulls. Should print 2 skulls at about life size on regular 8.5 x 11 or A4 paper. Warning: they’re small.

Aquilops cut-and-fold – 1 large skull. Warning: still not very big.

I found that regular printer paper is too flimsy to really hold the shape, so I built mine an endoskeleton (endoskull?) out of bits of cut up file folder. Just about anything would work. Teaching a course in which Aquilops could be relevant (which is all of them)? Have your students roll their own paper skulls, and use them as a springboard for talking about dinosaurs or evolution or anatomy or current events or whatever tickles your fancy.

Want a bigger challenge? My cut-and-fold skull is the epitome of laziness: I just mirror-image duplicated my lateral view and sandwiched the dorsal view in between. You could definitely make a better one, and with all of the free Aquilops data online, you have all the raw material you need. If you come up with something good, let me know in the comments and I’ll feature it in a later post.

Aquilops reconstructed skull 3D model screenshot

This is not the model, this is just a screenshot. But when you go to the link below, the 3D model will load in a window that looks just like this. Model by Garrett Stowe, copyright and courtesy of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

3. Play with the 3D models.

No access to a printer of any sort? Well, you can still have fun with Aquilops in your browser and on your hard drive. If you want to see the holotype specimen as it looks today, there are 3D PDFs in the paper’s supplementary info. But if you haven’t been to the OMNH Aquilops page to play with the model of the complete, uncrushed skull that Garrett Stowe made, go do that now. On the same page is a 3D life restoration of Aquilops, also by Garrett Stowe. Both models are awesome, and Garrett is still working on them so they’ll be even better soon.

Want a bigger challenge? Surprise me. We made Aquilops freely available to the world, so you can take any and all of the stuff that we published – the figures from the paper, Brian Engh’s artwork, the 3D models of the fossil – and make cool new things that we haven’t thought of. C’mon, let’s play.

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16 Responses to “Aquilops wants to play”

  1. Frosted Flake Says:

    I’d hate to look down and see that little guy making off with one of my toes.

  2. Samosthenurus Says:

    I wanna see someone 3d print then plasticine reconstruct.

  3. Matt Wedel Says:

    I’d hate to look down and see that little guy making off with one of my toes.

    Yeah, in my experience small herbivores with weaponry are usually mean as hell. Andy and I both reckon that Aquilops would be a notorious finger-nipper if it was alive today.

    And also, I’d love to see someone illustrate the scenario you describe. :-)

  4. Allen Hazen Says:

    Neat! A few days ago, in conversation with someone, I speculated that 3-D printers might be a help to scientific communication: that, for example, in the future a palaeontologist might include a digital file in the “supplemental information” of a paper from which others with access to 3-D printers could make copies of fossil bones… AND THE FUTURE HAS ARRIVED!

    How would you compare the output of a #-D printer with the casts that people have had to study when their travel budgets didn’t allow them to visit the museum holding the original specimens?

  5. Andy Farke Says:

    Based on personal experience, 3D printer output (even for the high-end models) is not yet at a comparable level with a good quality cast produced from a silicone mold (and with said mold and cast done by a competent technician). The main issue is in the surface detail–silicone (and even latex, to some degree) picks up a lot of microstructure that 3D printers just can’t reproduce yet. That said, a 3D print is still quite useful–e.g., you don’t necessarily need every surface detail for most limb bones, or even many skull elements. I would say in the case of Aquilops, you are losing out most on some of the dental details, which are fairly critical for identifying isolated ceratopsian teeth. So, a good cast or figures are still important there. But, a 3D print will show most of what you want to see for other details. I can say from personal experience that even a rough 3D print in hand can give a better “feel” for the specimen than even the best figures or 3D PDFs (which are an okay intermediate measure, but problematic for many other reasons). There is much about scale and proportions that only seem to click for me when I have a specimen (or replica) in hand.

    If you want more 3D digital dinosaurs, you can check out the baby Parasaurolophus some colleagues and I described last year–the website has links to downloadable STLs and the like.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    “after 18 and a half years of sauropods, it’s very satisfying to have a holotype I can shove in my pocket.”

    Shame on you, sir. The only honorable course of action is to throw away your pathetic life-sized Aquilops print, and get a new one printed at 1:15 scale.

  7. Zach Miller Says:

    Oh my word. I can 3D print Joe’s skull too?

    I’ll echo Allen’s sentiments. 3D printing is a cheap, accessible way to get fossils in people’s hands. It’d be great if 3D PDFs became standard practice, at least for smaller fossils that could reasonably be 3D printed. Yes, you lose a lot of smaller details but for general educational purposes I think it’s hard to beat.


  8. Here’s my attempt at working on the papercraft version. With a little bit of extra knife work, I managed to get it looking pretty nice.

    http://pteroformer.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-year-blues-fix-skulls-and-papercraft.html

  9. Matt Wedel Says:

    Outstanding work, Gareth!


  10. Here is my shot at making something. I combined parts of the babies in Brian Engh’s picture to make up enough arms and legs to create a whole baby. I might upload the parts at some point.


  11. If anyone wanted to make the baby Aquilops, here are the parts. I found printing them out on paper worked as you have to glue the 2 sides together.

  12. QB Says:

    I’ve been waiting for the time when I could own a 3D print of a fossil. One question, where’s the link to download it? I’m not the best at navigating websites.


  13. This cut and fold thing…actually its applications now seem practically limitless to me…


  14. […] things, that’s what. In a previous post I asked people to make cool things with Aquilops. And you have. In spades. Here’s a […]

  15. Andy Farke Says:

    It is also worth noting that I created a beer recipe in honor of Aquilops, which incidentally topped an informal tasting for my local homebrew club. Recipe here, in-progress information here, and tasting results here.


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