Some owls are so small, they are known as owlets. The forest owlet, a species unique to India, is one such owl. It was discovered in 1872 when F. R. Blewitt collected the first specimen of the bird in present-day Chhattisgarh. Six more specimens of the “Blewitt’s Owl” were collected until 1884 from Maharashtra and Odisha by two other collectors. Then, more than a century went by without a single legitimate record of the bird.
Alleged forest owlet records that came after 1884 — eggs, photographs, skins, or sightings — didn’t really belong to the forest owlet. One record, dated 1914, was indeed of the forest owlet but it was fraudulent — its label had been fabricated and the specimen tampered with. A collector had stolen one of the 19th-century specimens from the Natural History Museum in Tring, UK, and labeled it with a made-up collection date and location. This led to search efforts in the wrong location. With no sightings in this and other places, many believed that the bird had gone extinct.
An Egyptian mummy’s head and face have been reconstructed with forensic science and 3D printing, offering scientists a tantalizing glimpse of the individual’s life and death.
The mummified head was discovered by accident in the collections of the University of Melbourne in Australia. A museum curator happened upon the remains during an audit and, concerned about the state of the specimen, sent it for a computed tomography (CT) scan.
“Turns out, [the skull] is actually quite intact; it has got bandages and looks well on the inside,” said Varsha Pilbrow, a biological anthropologist in the University of Melbourne’s Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience. “Of course, that then allowed us to think what to do next.”
With the help of an imaging specialist, Pilbrow and her team used the scans to create a 3D-printed replica of the mummy’s skull. Then, the scientists studied the specimen’s facial-bone features, such as the size and angle of the jaw and characteristics of the eye sockets, to determine that the head belonged to a female. The researchers are calling the specimen Meritamun. They say she was probably not more than 25 years old at the time of her death and was important enough to be mummified.