We’ll never be able to say enough about the amazing cooperation we’ve received from every University of Iowa department we’ve approached for help in analyzing the sloth fossils. That’s especially true of the Iowa Comprehensive Lung Imaging Center (ICLIC), which has given us access to one of the most advanced x-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging machines in the county to scan some of our sloth bones. The Siemens high speed, high resolution, multi-slice scanner is one of the few in the country devoted entirely to human and animal research.
Friday the University published a photo essay in their on-line journal FYI about the rapid prototyping process we are using to duplicate bones on the Tarkio Valley Sloth Project. The prototypes (a.k.a. “casts”) are accurate within a millimeter and can be safely mailed to scientists who wish to examine the individual elements for their research. They will also serve as substitute bones for traveling trunks to schools and nature centers that we plan to make available in 2012. The prototypes may also be the basis of a sloth exhibit in the Greater Shenandoah Historical Museum someday.
Many thanks to Tom Jorgensen at FYI for developing the piece, and of course Eric Hoffman and his I-CLIC staff, Steve Struckman and the College of Engineering, the staff of the Museum of Natural History, and Tony Smith for his artistry. . . what a team!