Credit: Hanneke Jacobs
Over the past few years, Naturalis has painstakingly made 3D scans of every single bone in Trix the T.rex’s skeleton. Based on these scans, a modeler made a three dimensional design and reconstructed the bones that were missing. This design was printed in 2020, a 12.5 meter (41 feet) replica weighing about 300 kgs (660 lbs). Employees of Naturalis and the Leiden School for Instrument Makers (LIS) then assembled the prints into a kit that is easier to assemble. This way, the Dinosaur Museum in Nagasaki will not receive hundreds of separate prints, but “only” 50 larger parts.
They’re going to have to assemble those themselves, aided by Naturalis through online meetings. “We were planning to travel to Japan together with the replica and help put it together there, but the travel restrictions due to the coronavirus make the journey impossible’, project leader Hanneke Jacobs says. Due to the virus, Naturalis was closed during almost the entire construction period, she explains: “We built the replica in our atrium because we wanted to share the process with as many visitors as possible, so it’s kind of sad that we had to close.”
The original Trix will stay in Holland, but if you want to see the 3D printed version, you’ll have to go to Japan. The town of Leiden, where Naturalis is located, is twinned with Nagasaki, where in October 2021 a new Dinosaur Museum will open. There, the replica will stand on a metal frame that goes through the plastic bones. “Of course, we don’t drill holes in bones that are over 66 million years old”, Jacobs explains, “But you can do it with the print.” Because the frame is on the inside, visitors can get an even better look at the bones.
Naturalis’ Builder 3D Extreme 1500 Printers have been put to slightly easier jobs since then. “For instance, we printed the tip of the Mont Blanc for our friends in Haarlem’s Teylers Museum”, Jacobs says. “We’re not doing anything monster sized – for now.”