"aboriginal landscapes of fabulous hybrid creatures"
June 12, 2013 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Marguerite Humeau is an artist who has made reconstructions of extinct creatures' vocal tracts, extrapolating from extant species and fossil remains. The Extinction Orchestra.

Back Here, Below, Formidable
composed of soft tissue, the vocal chords of animals do not fossilize; only the surrounding bone is preserved.
humeau's extrapolation of the form of the windpipes involved extensive research and collaboration
with paleaeontologists, zoologists, veterinarians, engineers, explorers, surgeons, ear and throat specialists, and radiologists.
Ever Wonder What A Wooly Mammoth Sounds Like?
The Prehistoric Opera: An Interview with Marguerite Humeau
Could you tell us about “Lucy” in a bit more detail.

This prototype is the first of a larger series of reborn extinct creatures. Lucy (Australopithecus Afarensis) used to live 3,85 to 2,95 million years ago. It was one of our human ancestors – actually one of the first hominids – the mother of humanity. The remains of Lucy were found in 1974 in Ethiopia. ”Lucy In the Sky” was playing on the radio when they found it, so that’s why she is called Lucy.

For this prototype I used the data from a vocal tract ( trachea, larynx- including the vocal chords, mouth, nose, pharynx, and sinuses) CT-scan from a human, and compared it with the data of a chimpanzee and the skull of Lucy.
Lucy at MoMA

The interview with Humeau at We Make Money Not Art has many more links, along with a history of the project and other places it has been displayed - and heard.

posted by the man of twists and turns (5 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
This is amazingly cool.
posted by a hat out of hell at 9:39 AM on June 12, 2013

I hope that I don't seem to diminish this entire project -- which I think is outstanding and makes me want to cry with joy for humanity and its general awesome abilities -- by pointing out how amused I am that "3D reconstruction of CT scans of an asian elephant's vocal tract, used as research for 'mammoth imperator'" looks like a smushed penis.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:46 AM on June 12, 2013

Which of these links has the output of her doing this with an animal that we have actual recordings of to see how well the technique works?
posted by DU at 10:35 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

In the late 1990s, a paleontologist from New Mexico History Museum and an engineer at Sandia used 3-D imaging of CT scans of fossils and many supercomputer cycles to make vocalizations of a Parasaurolophus. You can hear some of the vocalizations at the very old links here.
posted by answergrape at 11:02 AM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

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