Exploring the then-unknown sites of east Turkana near Ileret in 1969, Richard and Meave Leakey and their party were walking along a dry sand river when they saw, looking directly at them, this skull of ER 406. It had some sandstone adhering to the orbits and was without teeth, but it was otherwise complete. It appeared to have rolled out of the dry river bank during the last rains and would most certainly have been washed away during the next rainy season.
This skull is the same species as OH5 (Paranthropus boisei), which Mary Leakey had discovered at Olduvai Gorge almost exactly 10 years earlier. The skull has the characteristic pronounced sagittal crest running along its top, and would have been a male.
I printed this striking visage on behalf of Louise Leakey and her AfricanFossils.org. Leakey and her foundation are interested in getting inexpensive, high quality fossil models into schoolkids’ hands in classrooms around the world. 3D printing seems like an ideal solution, and this print was a proof of concept, and the object of a bit of troubleshooting.
The scan was made by Autodesk. I printed it on a MakerBot Replicator and finished it in bronze with Alternate Reality Patinas.
With Ms. Leakey’s kind permission, my finished print was displayed at Autodesk’s 2012 Autodesk University event, and will also be displayed at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, in the MakerBot exhibit.