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LOOK: 500-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature Comes To Life In 3D Sculpture

16 September 2017, 9:28 am EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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The quality of Agnostus pisiformis fossils is so exquisite that the 3D renderings were able to capture the smallest details. The ancient creatures' extremities, hairs and antennae are clearly shown in this life-like sculpture.   ( Esben Horn | Lund University )

The creature with perhaps some of the most exceptionally and abundantly preserved fossils has been brought to life in a 3D sculpture. The Agnostus pisiformis continues to be a celebrity in the world of science.

The Face Of Agnostus Pisiformis

You might find the Agnostus pisiformis adorable or slightly creepy, but either way you will be impressed. Working with Lund University geology professor Mats E. Eriksson, Danish artist Esben Horn was able to accurately create 3D sculptural models of the 500-million-year-old sea creature.

Because of the pristine quality of the A. pisiformis fossils, Eriksson and Horn's collaboration resulted in an extremely detailed rendering of how the creature looked like. Everything was captured in the 3D sculpture, from the hard shell, to its legs, eyes and the tiniest hairs and antennae.

The A. pisiformis has been known for centuries ever since it was discovered by Swedish scientist Magnus von Brummel in 1729. Since then, scientists have been able to recreate its appearance, but none as detailed as the one made by Horn who, along with her team, specializes in creating lifelike sculptures of organisms for museums and other organizations.

Meet A. Pisiformis

The A. pisiformis is significant in many ways. These creatures are trilobite-like arthropods that thrived between 506 and 492 million years ago during the Cambrian period. They are sea creatures that can only grow to 1 centimeter as adults, and thrived mostly in Scandinavia.

One would think that such small creatures that lived only for a brief period of Earth's history would barely leave a trace but the opposite is true. In fact, traces of the A. pisiformis have been recorded in Scandinavia, England and Russia.

Celebrity Status

There are various reasons as to why scientists just love the A. pisiformis. Perhaps the most obvious reason for all the love is the abundance and exquisite quality of fossils, allowing experts to thoroughly study the creature up until the smallest of details. This is even more significant given that the creatures only lived for a brief period of time and yet they left their marks clearly on the face of the Earth.

In fact the amount and quality of the fossils allowed scientists to thoroughly study the ancient creature's development from youth to adulthood. What's more, the fact that they lived for just a few million years allows scientists to use the fossils to date other rocks.

If that isn't enough of a reason to love the A. pisiformis, the fact that this rendering is so detailed can give further insight into the creature's mode of life as well as its surroundings during its existence.

"There were actually ecosystems seething with fantastic and bizarre life forms several hundred million years before the dinosaurs even appeared," said Eriksson, as he now hopes that the 3D sculpture could be a part of a traveling exhibition of flora and fauna from 500 million years ago, highlighting paleontology as a field that's not just centered on dinosaurs.

The paper is published in Earth Science Reviews.

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