from the world's big
Scientists used CT scanning and 3D-printing technology to re-create the voice of Nesyamun, an ancient Egyptian priest.
- Scientists printed a 3D replica of the vocal tract of Nesyamun, an Egyptian priest whose mummified corpse has been on display in the UK for two centuries.
- With the help of an electronic device, the reproduced voice is able to "speak" a vowel noise.
- The team behind the "Voices of the Past" project suggest reproducing ancient voices could make museum experiences more dynamic.
Howard et al.<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"While this approach has wide implications for heritage management/museum display, its relevance conforms exactly to the ancient Egyptians' fundamental belief that 'to speak the name of the dead is to make them live again'," they wrote in a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-56316-y#Fig3" target="_blank">paper</a> published in Nature Scientific Reports. "Given Nesyamun's stated desire to have his voice heard in the afterlife in order to live forever, the fulfilment of his beliefs through the synthesis of his vocal function allows us to make direct contact with ancient Egypt by listening to a sound from a vocal tract that has not been heard for over 3000 years, preserved through mummification and now restored through this new technique."</p>
Connecting modern people with history<p>It's not the first time scientists have "re-created" an ancient human's voice. In 2016, for example, Italian researchers used software to <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/hear-recreated-voice-otzi-iceman-180960570/" target="_blank">reconstruct the voice of Ötzi,</a> an iceman who was discovered in 1991 and is thought to have died more than 5,000 years ago. But the "Voices of the Past" project is different, the researchers note, because Nesyamun's mummified corpse is especially well preserved.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It was particularly suited, given its age and preservation [of its soft tissues], which is unusual," Howard told <em><a href="https://www.livescience.com/amp/ancient-egypt-mummy-voice-reconstructed.html" target="_blank">Live Science</a>.</em></p><p>As to whether Nesyamun's reconstructed voice will ever be able to speak complete sentences, Howard told <em><a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Weird/wireStory/ancient-voice-scientists-recreate-sound-egyptian-mummy-68482015" target="_blank">The Associated Press</a>, </em>that it's "something that is being worked on, so it will be possible one day."</p><p>John Schofield, an archaeologist at the University of York, said that reproducing voices from history can make museum experiences "more multidimensional."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"There is nothing more personal than someone's voice," he told <em>The Associated Press.</em> "So we think that hearing a voice from so long ago will be an unforgettable experience, making heritage places like Karnak, Nesyamun's temple, come alive."</p>
The American Museum of Natural History presents the new, more accurate T. rex.
- Hatchling, four-year-old, and adult models show us new sides of the famous predator.
- They're part of the T. rex: The Ultimate Predator exhibit running from March 2019 to August 2020.
- Attention time travelers: You may want to pet the feathered hatchling. Don't.
Latest fossil discoveries<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTI2MzYxOC9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDgzNDM0NX0.4EPr3H-7AvQWUHTkOSQZ-gLDcJzEDgaLrCFjP5K9e5A/img.gif?width=980" id="51dd9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bdf6410d0ac311b5078630429d7a0e59" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: AMNH/AMNH / R. Peterson<p>As more fossils are discovered, we learn more and more about the <em>Tyrannosauroidea</em> family. The first discovery of a feathered dinosaur, the <a href="https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/dinosaurs/fact-sheets/sinosauropteryx-prima/" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1"><em>Sinosauropteryx prima</em></a> in 1996, suggested we might've been picturing the ancient creatures, including <em>T. rex</em>, incorrectly. More recent discoveries such as the <a href="https://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/on-exhibit-posts/get-to-know-a-dino-yutyrannus-huali" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1"><em>Yutyrannus huali</em></a> have only bolstered this suspicion. In addition, archeologists have begun finding <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-fossil-could-prove-or-disprove-existence-tiny-t-rex-180968639/" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">infant</a> Tyrannousaur fossils, and this has allowed the team at the AMNH, led by <a href="https://www.amnh.org/our-research/staff-directory/mark-a.-norell" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">Mark Norell</a>, to realistically imagine <em>T. rex</em> at three life stages for the "Ultimate Predator" exhibit.</p><p>Not all <em>Tyrannosaurs</em> were <em>T. rexes</em> — there were dozens of Tyrannosaur species, and no others were as large. The "Ultimate Predator" show includes a number of them, including the <a href="https://www.amnh.org/our-research/science-news2/2004/newly-discovered-primitive-tyrannosaur-found-to-be-feathered" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1"><em>Dilong paradoxus</em></a>. Most were about the size of a <em>T. rex</em> youngster as adults. They were all, however, all dangerous predators — and the AMNH exhibit will feature new representations of a variety of family members. Most <em>Tyrannousaurs</em> were fast runners, unlike the adolescent and adult <em>T. rex</em>, a slower-moving death machine. (The hatchling ran.)</p>
Informed guesswork<p>There's still a fair amount of conjecture involved, but between what's visible in the fossil record and what can be seen today in <em>T. rex's</em> living relatives, there's little doubt that experts are growing ever-closer to a complete understanding of these creatures who last roamed the earth some 68 million years ago. A lot can be inferred from these familial connections, including feeding and parenting behaviors and various as-yet-unknown physical features. For example, fossilized <em>T. rex</em> footprints are nearly identical to the modern emu, albeit bigger, and so inferences can be made about their feet.</p><p>Speaking of skin, contrary to the traditional belief that <em>T. rex's</em> skin was akin to a contemporary lizard's or snake's, experts now suspect it was actually a more leathery covering, similar to that of the foot of a chicken or the leg of a turtle.</p><p>The new AMNH models reflect the latest theories regarding every minute details of their physiognomy.</p>
The hatchling T. rex<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTI2MzYyMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMTc3NjQyN30.igooBCyEs28cAuyDTTFecrh2WpdxNopd1_urN-CfCY4/img.jpg?width=980" id="82b37" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5b8360403220f434975e15277b3fd0f6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: AMNH/D. Finnin<p> About 60 percent of <em>T. rex</em> hatchlings — about the size of turkeys — probably didn't survive to their first birthday. The downy-feathered tykes grew quickly, though, about 140 pounds a month, but it still took until they were about 20 to reach full size. Experts believe that they were quick little predators with lots of tiny, needle-like teeth. Like modern Komodo dragons, they probably fed on insects and smaller vertebrates before maturing into their grownup fare.</p>
The four-year-old T. rex<p> By the time <em>T. rex </em> was around four, it was as big as other non-<em>rex</em> <em>Tyrannosaurs</em>. (AMNH <a href="https://www.amnh.org/about-the-museum/press-center/t-rex-the-ultimate-predator-opens" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">says</a> this is about five times the size of a four-year-old human boy.) It was fully feathered, with teeth good for slicing and cutting as opposed to crushing, the speciality of the adult <em>T. rex</em>. At this stage, <em>T. rex</em> also had long arms — it's believed they stopped growing prior to reaching full size, resulting in the oddly teeny arms of the adult <em>T. rex</em>.</p>
Adult T. rex<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTI2MzYyMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMDMyNTQ2N30.w5R8NlOnzSKqp93Vtn4BCq9QDnRCeUgmOQ6iF0sBzpU/img.jpg?width=980" id="36738" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="01e2062092f0d4bdf3c3a24f42d1043f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Even scarier than before? Image source: AMNH/D. Finnin<p>This is the terrifying bad boy — or girl — we know and fear, albeit likely with more feathers than you might have once thought. The monster was up to <a href="https://www.amnh.org/dinosaurs/tyrannosaurus-rex" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">40 feet long</a>, and weighed between 11,000 and 15,500 pounds.</p><p><em>T. rex's</em> banana-shaped teeth and mighty jaws could clamp down with 7,800 pounds of force — that's about the weight of three cars. It was one of very few creatures ever to be capable of pulverizing and digesting the solid bone of prey. (30–50 percent of <em>T. rex</em> coprolites, fossilized poop, is actually crushed bone.)</p><p>If that wasn't enough, we now know that <em>T. rex</em> <a href="https://www.amnh.org/about-the-museum/press-center/t-rex-the-ultimate-predator-opens" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">senses were super-sharp</a>. Orange-sized eyes faced forward, hawk-like, and were set far enough apart that <em>T. rex</em> had great depth vision. Examination of its brain casings suggests an exceptional sense of smell and of hearing, too.</p><p>The new exhibit has a shadow-theater floor projection of one of these nightmares coming to life.</p>