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VR and AR are bringing extinct animals back to life

Published 4:28 AM ET, Fri November 5, 2021
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The Zoo of Extinct Animals is an augmented reality experience on Snapchat that allows you to interact with 3D, life-like extinct animals. The lens for the first animal -- the Baiji dolphin -- was released in January and allows you to watch the dolphin roll around in water and move around your screen. The Baiji was native to the Yangtze River in China but was declared functionally extinct in 2001. Sebastian Koseda
Created by designer Sebastian Koseda to raise awareness of how our actions are impacting the planet, the zoo features animals that have gone extinct in the last 20 years due to human activity. Lenses for the dolphin and Pyrenean ibex are already available, and Koseda and his team are currently working on the West African Black rhino, which they hope to complete within the next six months. They will then recreate the Formosan clouded leopard and the Caribbean monk seal. Sebastian Koseda
Koseda is not the only one using technology to visualize extinct creatures. Google Arts & Culture is using virtual reality to help people explore a world lost millions of years ago, when dinosaurs ruled. It partnered with more than 50 leading natural history institutions to create more than 150 interactive stories, 300,000 new photos and videos, and more than 30 virtual tours. Google Arts & Culture
Google Arts & Culture worked with ecologists, paleontologists and biologists to put virtual skin and flesh on the preserved skeleton of a brachiosaurus, pictured above, one of the tallest dinosaurs that ever lived, standing at 42 feet tall. From the size of its eye to the creases in its skin, every detail of the dinosaur was carefully recreated. Google Arts & Culture
You can view the extinct creatures through the Google Cardboard viewer or on YouTube 360˚. The skeleton of the rhomaleosaurus, pictured above, was discovered in the UK and can be found at the National History Museum in London. Google Arts & Culture
In another augmented reality project, France-based SAOLA Studio teamed up with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris to digitally revive 11 species of animals that are now extinct or in danger of extinction, for project "Revivre" ("Revive" or "Relive" in English). Above is an imagining of Stellar's sea cow, an animal that was described in 1741 in the North Pacific but which humans hunted for its oil and meat until it became extinct in 1768, according to the museum. SAOLA Studio / MNHN
The aim of the project is to raise awareness of how many species are going extinct so that people can avoid making the mistakes of the past. Nearly two-thirds of the world's wildlife population was wiped out in the past 50 years, according to the WWF. Through augmented reality glasses, visitors can witness the unusual revival of vanished species, such as the dodo from the island of Mauritius, seen in this illustration. SAOLA Studio / MNHN
Launched as an AR installation at the National Museum of Natural History, visitors wear a headset and are guided through the Great Gallery of Evolution by an extinct migratory pigeon while a voice tells the story of the species and their extinction. You can see the large saber-toothed tiger (imagined above) yawn to show its teeth. SAOLA Studio / MNHN