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3D scans of Yorkshire’s star fossils in the world’s first 3D virtual fossil collection

3D scans of Yorkshire’s star fossils have been chosen to be part of the world’s first 3D virtual fossil collection, which is being launched today. (Thursday August 22).

Created by The British Geological Survey (BGS), thousands of 3D digital fossil models, plus several thousand high quality images, many in 3D, can now be browsed and downloaded for free.

The GB3D Type Fossils Online project, funded by Jisc, includes some of the region’s best specimens and made them available for academics, researchers and fossil enthusiasts to enjoy at their leisure.

Sarah King, Collections Facilitator (Natural Science) York Museums Trust, said: “The Yorkshire Museum has 300 type specimen fossils in our collection. These type fossils are used around the world as the reference specimen to define a species.

In the past if experts wanted to look at these they had to come to the museum but by using this new technology we are enabling people to have a good look at them much more easily. “We hope this will mean more research is done on the fossils in our collection so we can find out more about them and then put this in new exhibitions and displays in the museum.” Professor John Ludden, Executive Director of the BGS, said “This work will provide an outstanding resource to geologists at all levels: researchers, university students, school students and amateurs for years to come’’ To find out more visit:

To celebrate the launch, BGS are running a free competition for the public at a number of museums around the country, including the Yorkshire Museum. Over the next three weeks, visitors are invited to hunt down the 3D-printed fossils (printed from 3D files in the online collection) among museum displays and enter a draw for VIP behind-the-scenes museum tours. One overall winner, drawn from all of the regional entries, will also receive a tablet computer preloaded with 3D fossils.

In the UK, type fossil specimens are stored in a number of locations across the country, and there is no easy way to search across the many different catalogues. The GB3D Type Fossils Online project has developed a single database of the type specimens, held in British collections, of macrofossil species and subspecies found in the UK. This includes links to photographs and a selection of 3D digital models produced by laser scanning of the best fossils. The BGS has carried out the work in collaboration with its partners: The National Museum of Wales; The Sedgwick Museum Cambridge; The University Museum of Natural History Oxford; and the Geological Curators’ Group, which represents a number of regional museums.


For further details or to arrange media interviews please contact:

Lee Clark, communications manager for York Museums Trust, 01904 687673

Clive Mitchell, BGS Press Office, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG Office +44 (0)115 936 3257 Mobile: + 44 (0)7815 537 439 Email: Twitter @CliveBGS

Sarah Nice, BGS Press Office, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG Office: +44 (0)115 936 3605 Mobile: +44 (0)7989 115657 E-mail: Twitter @Sarahnice1

Notes for Editors

The following are available for interview:

Dr Mike Howe, British Geological Survey

Sarah King, Collections Facilitator (Natural Science) York Museums Trust

For additional information go to:

Photographs are available from our ftp server: 

Free for media use with this acknowledgement: GB3D Type Fossils Online/British Geological Survey (c) NERC

The British Geological Survey

The British Geological Survey (BGS), a component body of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), is the nation's principal supplier of objective, impartial and up-to-date geological expertise and information for decision making for governmental, commercial and individual users. The BGS maintains and develops the nation's understanding of its geology to improve policy making, enhance national wealth and reduce risk. It also collaborates with the national and international scientific community in carrying out research in strategic areas, including energy and natural resources, our vulnerability to environmental change and hazards, and our general knowledge of the Earth system. More about the BGS can be found at

The Natural Environment Research Council

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is the UK's main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. It coordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, food security, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more. NERC receives around £300 million a year from the government's science budget, which it uses to fund research and training in universities and its own research centres.


Jisc offers digital services for UK education and research, owned by the Association of Colleges (AoC), GuildHE and Universities UK (UUK). The charity enables people in higher education, further education and skills in the UK to perform at the forefront of international practice by exploiting fully the possibilities of modern, digital empowerment, content and connectivity. Jisc has been at the forefront of the practical application of technology in schools, colleges and universities for over two decades. We’ve earned a reputation as a trusted partner for the education and research sectors and today we combine the latest in digital thinking, network and IT services with access to content and resource procurement to deliver new and better ways of working for all customers to achieve operational advantage. Find out more at