Sunday, June 7th, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Download 19 free 3D models of prehistoric animal species

The University of Oxford’s Museum of Natural History has released 19 free 3D models of some of the world’s oldest – and, to modern eyes, strangest – animal species, to accompany its current First Animals exhibition.

The files are available to download from Sketchfab under a Creative Commons licence, and are available in a range of common 3D file formats.

3D models of species that slithered, swam or scuttled millions of years ago
The creatures all existed during the Cambrian Explosion, the evolutionary event around 540 million years ago during which most major modern groups of animals appeared.

The museum’s website describes it as a “burst of activity [that] transformed [the planet] into a slithering, swimming, scuttling place”.

As well as some comparatively familiar-looking creatures – some species are recognisably relatives of modern groups like vertebrates and sponges – the set includes species with no contemporary counterparts.

They range from the ‘armoured worm’ Onychodictyon ferox (above) to species that, by today’s standards, look more like plants, or even inanimate objects.

The models themselves, created by Mighty Fossils, are all relatively low-poly representations with simple 1,024px textures (the real surface colours aren’t known from the fossil record), some of them animated.

Creature designers should find them a fascinating source of inspiration – and for the rest of us, they’re a useful reminder that real animals are often stranger than their fantasy counterparts.

System requirements and availability
The 3D models from the First Animals collection are available in OBJ or FBX format, with automatically generated glTF and USDZ versions, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial licence.

Download the First Animals collection of free 3D models of ancient animal species