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Allan Drummond

3D-Printed Trilobites Are Gorgeous Works of Art

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Allan Drummond

We’ve seen 3D printing technology used to produce everything from unbelievable art to ground-breaking science materials. Now, University of Chicago assistant professor Dr. Allan Drummond has combined those two disciplines to fabricate spectacular 3D creations inspired by fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years

The subject of this project is the trilobite, specifically the Ceraurus genus that scuttled around Earth some 470 to 475 million years ago. The idea behind printing the fossil was to take something that most people have only seen as a flat imprint and bring it to life in three dimensions. The Ceraurus trilobite was a perfect choice because its structure is detailed enough to yield an impressive final product yet still sturdy enough to survive the recreation process.

Drummond started by drawing out a sketch of the creature, once in pencil then again using the graphics software Inkscape. This provided the blueprints for the 3D modeling, which was then used to print out the plastic components. Each piece had to be broken away from its base, polished, and assembled into the final form. The last step was to finish the trilobites by casting them in steel, bronze, and silver. The result is an impressive collection of prehistoric bling. You can check out his pictures below, and read more about the process from his posts on the Fossil Forum

All images courtesy of Allan Drummond.

[h/t: Nerdist]

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
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Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Animals
Listen to the Impossibly Adorable Sounds of a Baby Sloth
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RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages

Sometimes baby sloths seem almost too adorable to be real. But the little muppet-faced treasures don't just look cute—turns out they sound cute, too. We know what you're thinking: How could you have gone your whole life without knowing what these precious creatures sound like? Well, fear not: Just in time for International Sloth Day (today), we have some footage of how the tiny mammals express themselves—and it's a lot of squeaking. (Or maybe that's you squealing?)

The sloths featured in the heart-obliterating video below come from the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. The institution rescues orphaned sloths, rehabilitates them, and gets them ready to be released back into the wild.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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