Dr. Louise Leakey (TBI, Stony Brook University) and 3D software company Autodesk have teamed up with the National Museums of Kenya to create an ongoing interactive showcase famous fossil discoveries from the Turkana Basin in virtual 3D.

Newley launched, AfricanFossils.org enables visitors to explore a virtual “lab” filled with numerous famous fossil finds which can be enlarged, rotated, and viewed from any angle. While offering a limited selection of fossils at the moment, Leakey plans to continually update the library to comprise not only fossils of human ancestors but the other prehistoric animals with which they shared their environment.

Screenshot of the new AfricanFossils.org website.

Leakey was awarded a grant from San Rafael, CA-based Autodesk which enabled her to work with the National Museums of Kenya to digitize a number of scientifically important fossils in the Museum’s collection. The process involved making numerous photos of each specimen from a variety of angles and using Autodesk’s proprietary technology to create an immersive virtual environment in which visitors can closely examine some of the most important pieces of evidence for human evolution.

“This is a fantastic use of this revolutionary new technology,” says Leakey. “People from all over the world will now be able to enjoy these fossils which previously were available only to scientists visiting the museum.”