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AR To Bring Extinct Animals Back to Life

Animals such as the wooly mammoth have gone extinct a long time ago. But how scientists are using augmented reality (AR) technology to bring them to life for all. Currently there are efforts being made to create virtual versions of wooly mammoths, passenger pigeons and other extinct animals. The advancements of AR technology in recent times is making this possible.

A group of researchers in California are working on an augmented reality project that can enable anyone to project a wide variety of extinct animals. According to information in the Palaeontologia Electronica journal, the team has created upwards of a dozen different virtual animal models that are exactly like their real-life versions. All of these are animals from the Ice Age, an era with freezing temperatures around the world and large glaciers everywhere. The AR project is an undertaking made possible through the partnership of La Brea Tar Pits, University of the South California and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. It amalgamates paleontology and augmented reality design into a solution that can intrigue anyone and everyone.

The research team made virtual models of the extinct animals to explore the possibilities of augmented reality in enhancing what viewers experience in a museum. As there were no virtual Ice Age animal models they could use for research purposes, they decided to make and utilise their own, according to Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County exhibition developer Matt Davis. He is also the principal author in the research study.

The designers and researchers worked together to conduct extensive research on existing specimens with the objective about making estimations of anatomical details. Some of the specimens include fur, skeleton and muscle, which were analysed for comparison with the living relatives of the extinct animals. They made models in a low poly and blocky style in a similar way to two and three dimensional art pieces.

There are a total of 13 animal models including western horse, western camel, ancient bison, dwarf pronghorn and more. These can be viewed through the augmented reality offerings of social platforms Instagram and Snapchat.

Artwork has been chosen as an avenue for the project whilst there is a great deal of scientific accuracy in the animal models that have been designed, according to Davis. He is hopeful that the models will have an impact on the outcomes of paleontological research conducted in the future.

Davis elaborated further, defining the project as an example representing paleoart, which is the accurate and modern representation of how animals looked like when they roamed the Earth. Those experiencing the AR features will be able to observe how these animals looked like, walked and acted. There has been a void in the domain of paleoart due to lack of such efforts in the past.

The researchers are hopeful that their models will be the inspiration for scientists to show some interest in paleoart and prolong research efforts. AR features like these can act as a source of information about extinct animals.

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