Cerro Ballena (Spanish for “whale hill”) is one of the richest fossil sites in the world. Situated in Chile’s Atacama region, the area boasts dozens of large baleen whale skeletons along with fossils of billfish, seals, aquatic sloths and an extinct sperm whale species.

But the area was discovered by accident during road construction in 2010, meaning an international team of researchers had little time to document this important site before it was paved over. The team, led by the Smithsonian Institution, turned to a variety of 3D tools, and help from 3D Systems, to ensure that Cerro Ballena could be quickly preserved digitally and physically for future generations and further study.

3D Systems is proud to partner with the Smithsonian Institution on this vital heritage project. There’s even more to come as we help to put these skeletons on display so everyone can see, touch and experience the majesty of the Cerro Ballena whales.

Click here or on the video above to see how the Smithsonian Institute is using 3D to preserve the whale skeletons of Cerro Ballena.