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Augmented Reality Can Now Resurrect Extinct Animals

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Re-enact one of the ice ages from the comforts of your living room.

Courtesy of La Brea Tar Pits

Scientists are working on ways to bring extinct animals like the wooly mammoth or the passenger pigeon back from the dead. But these wont be animals paraded around in a zoofor the rest of us in the general public, we wont be able to glimpse these ancient critters in the flesh. For something like that, we turn to one of the hottest buzzwords in tech right now: augmented reality.

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Recreating these long-gone animals required researchers and designers to check out preserved specimens on hand, such as a skeleton, muscle, or fur, or compare them to a currently living relative. The models were then built in a blocky, low poly style, commonly used in 2D and 3D art.

Bring the Short-faced bear to life in AR with this snapcode.

Courtesy of La Brea Tar Pits

While its possible to conjure virtual animals from a cell phone using Googles AR search feature, Davis said the power of these models is in their scientific accuracy and potential to influence current and future paleontological research through artwork.

Paleoart is an [artistic] hypothesis of what an extinct animal looks like, how it behaved, how it walked, said Davis. The problem is, its often seen as an afterthought. Most paleontologists writing their scientific papers put in their graphs and data, but paleoart isnt part of that.

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Davis and his team hope their virtual models will encourage other scientists to give paleoart a chance and help advance future research, a potential tool paleontologists can use to uncover whats known or unknown about an extinct species.

A 3D model of a mastodon.

Courtesy of La Brea Tar Pits

The rise of virtual reality systems, too, means there are opportunities to one day have museum-goers interact with these virtually resurrected animals in much more detailed digital environments, like Metas proposed metaverse. Davis and his team dont have any immediate plans for such work, but it remains a possibility down the road.

If anyone wanted to start building [in] the metaverse, you could buy these models. We share them with people freely so they can enjoy them in AR, Davis said, adding the Ice Age animals could even be incorporated into a video game, giving Jurassic World Evolution a run for its money. I would rather have a video game with scientifically accurate assets and people using these things than not."

Read more on: thedailybeast, augmented


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