Several museums, including the Washington Smithsonian, and London's Natural History Museum, will be scanning millions of specimens to create a digital collection.
By "digitizing" specimens, it allows others to study collections across the world and is a means of preserving history. The fire which destroyed the Brazil National Museum in 2018 is a prime example of the significance of preservation.
Executive Director of the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden, Peter Cantelon, believes creating digital copies of fossils is a good idea.
"One of the advantages of a CT scan, which is essentially a great powerful and complex series of x-rays, is that it gives a lot more detail in terms of the density and interior structure of fossils."
The Boundary Trails Health Centre allowed the CFDC to scan a small mosasaur skull; this gave the museum a greater understanding of the specimen, including the creatures brain cavity.
The Smithsonian will be digitally recording over 40 million fossils; Cantelon says though the idea of scanning a collection is a good one, the endeavor is unattainable to smaller museums as they lack the funding necessary to achieve such goals.
"We rely on the goodwill of our neighbours, like BTHC; hopefully, when this becomes a more common practice, it will become more accessible to smaller or medium-sized museums around the world."
A CT scan is limited to the one fossil at the CFDC, but they have partnered with North Forge to create 3D models. Cantelon adds they can put these models into a digital 3D space for research purposes or 3D printing.
CT scans, 3D models, and HD photographs are great ways to archive a collection says Cantelon, but they aren't replacements for the real specimens.
Currently, paleontologists like Mary Higby Schweitzer, are looking at fossils at a molecular level. A pioneer in this new research, Higby Schweitzer found soft-tissue in the femur of a Tyrannosaurus rex and obtained protein sequences from the bone.
"You can't do that kind of work with a 3D scan, or a print, or a CT scan, you still need that actual fossil, but these technologies certainly bring us a lot further into protecting and disseminating the information, which is our mandate," Cantelon says.
He says they have several projects they will be working with North Forge on in 2019.
2018 saw the museum continue its partnership with the city of Morden facilitating the unveiling of a new outdoor 4.5-meter-long replica of the ferocious toothed ancient fish Xiphactinus bringing to three the number of outdoor attraction for Morden.
The CFDC continues to see tremendous growth with paid attendance in 2018 of 15,243 people crushed the previous record of 12,854 in 2017.
2018 represents the third year of record attendance in the past four years for the museum which has seen attendance grow by 26 percent since 2015 and by a staggering 131 percent over 2013.