The rebirth of prehistoric creatures

3d printed vocal chords: the mammoth roars again

image: Clifford Sage

To bring a creature as iconic as the Woolly Mammoth back to life may sound like science fiction, but when RCA Grad student Marguerite Humeau approached this phantasm of palaeontology, the results do indeed speak for themselves.

With a sculptural beauty that hints at its organic origins,¬†Back, Here Below, Formidable features a demonstrably functional 3d printed reconstruction of the extinct beast’s vocal tract.

The Mammoth Imperator installation (pictured above) is the result of over six months’ intensive research, during which time Marguerite gathered information from a diverse range of professionals. Discussions were pursued with palaeontologists, zoologists, veterinarians, engineers, explorers, surgeons, ear and throat specialists, radiologists… and the following revelation came from the surgeon who performed the world’s first human larynx transplant.

The discovery was that it is not the larynx, but actually the structure of the mouth, nasal cavity and the way that air is shaped in the lungs which makes a voice specific. For Marguerite, this meant that recreating the mammoth’s roar could indeed be possible using digital manufacturing technology. All she needed was a 3d scan of the soft tissues in question. Soft tissues tend not to survive the process of fossilisation, however…

image: IZW, Berlin

Undertaking a CT scan of the Asian Elephant, a modern-day relative of the mammoth, was one of many techniques Marguerite used to piece together enough information to do something quite unique; she gave a voice to a creature that last walked the earth over 10,000 years ago.

And suddenly, they roar in a non macabre but spectacular pandemonium.

via Fast Company

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2 Responses to “The rebirth of prehistoric creatures”

  1. kest Says:

    so…. does it make noise when you put air through it?

  2. Guy Blashki Says:

    I believe that it does!
    It’d be fantastic to hear a sample of the sound… comments (at the source article) from a visitor to the RCA degree show cited this as the highlight of their visit.