Drexel University Researchers to 3D-Print Dinosaur Bones


Laser scanning fossil bone.

Researchers at Drexel University are planning to print robotic dinosaurs that have been cast from real fossils, in an effort to better understand them. Kenneth Lacovara, a paleontologist, has combined forces with James Tangorra, a mechanical engineer, to learn more about dinosaur locomotion.


Current methods of research into dinosaur locomotion are largely guesswork and common sense. Thanks to 3D printers, replicating dinosaurs is now feasible and would probably lead to more accurate findings.

When paleontologists work with large dinosaur fossils, it’s almost impossible to manipulate the bones in order to test theories about mechanics and movement, states Lacovara. That’s why they want precise scaled-down replicas, which would preserve the exact shape and proportion of the bones. This would also allow researchers to digitally reshape the models to correct for inconsistencies that have accrued over the millions of years of fossilization and compression.


Lacovara and Tangorra hope to have working robotic dinosaur limbs printed out by the end of this year, and a complete sauropod completed in one to two years.

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