The Toe of Oregon’s only Dinosaur

I was recently contacted by the Museum of Natural and Cultural History to make a few replicas of Oregon’s only dinosaur fossil, a dinosaur toe bone, for one of their outreach programs. The state is replete with much more recent mammal fossils from the Tertiary Period (66-2.6 mya) of the Cenozoic Era. but not dinosaurs from earlier periods because much of the state was under water.  University of Oregon Earth Sciences Professor and paleontologist, Greg Retallack, found the fossil in central Oregon.  It belongs to a dinosaur called a Ornithopod. Researchers believe that the dinosaur died near the sea somewhere else and then “bloated and floated” to where it was found when central Oregon part of a vast sea.

Making replicas is one of the outreach projects we have been doing for many years now in the Allen Price Science Commons & Research Library. In fact, the first thing the UO Libraries printed with its first 3D printer was a replica of a specimen for the Museum, the head of the saber-toothed Salmon. Of course, 3D printed objects need to be adjusted so that they look like the real thing.  In our case, we used our supply of green filament to print the copies of the bone (based on an MRI scan) for the museum and made a final copy out of our pink PLA plastic to keep in the Price Science Commons.  I then did little painting so that is resembled the original fossil.

Here is the replica above before painting:

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