Skip to main content Accessibility help


  • Renaud Lebrun (a1) and Maëva J. Orliac (a1)


Since the early 1990s, methods for the acquisition of three-dimensional (3-D) data and computer-assisted techniques for the visualization of such data have grown increasingly popular among biologists, paleontologists, and paleoanthropologists. However, thus far no standardized repository for complex virtual models based on 3-D digital data of specimens has emerged, whereas the need for researchers to provide access to 3-D models of specimens as well as the pressure imposed on authors by scientific journals to make original 3-D morphological data publicly available have increased. MorphoMuseuM (M3) aims to fill this gap. M3 is both a peer-reviewed scientific journal (M3 Journal) and a virtual specimen repository (M3 Repository). All scientific articles and their associated 3-D models deposited in M3 go through a formal review process. Each published model is given a DOI and a unique identifier code, which should be cited by researchers using this model in their scientific publications. In this paper, we describe the place of M3 among other online repositories for 3-D data, and explain how the growing community of biologists working with 3-D data can benefit from using M3.



Hide All
Avila, L.S., Barré, S., Blue, R., Cole, D., Geveci, B., Hoffman, W.A., King, B., Law, C.C., Martin, K.M., Schroeder, W.J., and Squillacote, A.H., 2001, The VTK User’s Guide: Clifton Park, New York, Kitware, 536 p.
Baldock, R.A., and Burger, A., 2012, Biomedical atlases: Systematics, informatics and analysis: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, v. 736, p. 655677, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-7210-1_39.
Ballester-Ripoll, R., Suter, S.K., and Pajarola, R., 2015, Analysis of tensor approximation for compression-domain volume visualization: Computers & Graphics, v. 47, p. 3447, DOI: 10.1016/j.cag.2014.10.002.
Blender Foundation, 2016, Blender: An open source 3-D creation suite: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Stichting Blender Foundation, (accessed 20 February 2016).
Boistel, R., Herrel, A., Lebrun, R., Daghfous, G., Tafforeau, P., Losos, J. B., and Vanhooydonck, B., 2011, Shake rattle and roll: The bony labyrinth and aerial descent in squamates: Integrative and Comparative Biology, v. 51, p. 957968, DOI: 10.1093/icb/icr034.
Boyer, D., Gunnell, G., Kaufman, S., and McGeary, T., 2017, MorphoSource—Archiving and sharing 3-D digital specimen data: The Paleontological Society Papers, v. 22, p. 157–181.
Cake Software Foundation, 2005, CakePHP: A web development framework running on PHP 7: Las Vegas, Nevada, Cake Software Foundation, (accessed 3 February 2016).
Conroy, G.C., and Vannier, M.W., 1984, Noninvasive three-dimensional computer imaging of matrix-filled fossil skulls by high-resolution computed tomography: Science, v. 226, p. 456458, DOI: 10.1126/science.226.4673.456.
Cunningham, J.A., Rahman, I.A., Lautenschlager, S., Rayfield, E.J., and Donoghue, P.C.J., 2014, A virtual world of paleontology: Trends in Ecology & Evolution, v. 29, p. 347357, DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2014.04.004.
Faulwetter, S., Vasileiadou, A., Kouratoras, M., Dailianis, T., and Arvanitidis, C., 2013, Micro-computed tomography: Introducing new dimensions to taxonomy: ZooKeys, v. 263, p. 145, DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.263.4261.
Fourie, S., 1974, The cranial morphology of Thrinaxodon liorhinus Seeley: Annals of the South African Museum, v. 65, p. 337400.
Gilissen, E., 2009a, Data sharing in the case of scanned museum collections: Suggestions for best practice: EDIT Newsletter, v. 14, p. 1112.
Gilissen, E., 2009b, Museum collections, scanning, and data access: Journal of Anthropological Sciences, v., 89, p. 14.
Godinot, M., Crochet, J., Hartenberger, J., Lange-Badré, B., Russell, D., and Sigé, B., 1987, Nouvelles données sur les mammifères de Palette (Eocène inférieur, Provence). Münchner Geowissenschaftliche Abhandlungen A, v. 10, p. 273288.
Lautenschlager, S., 2014, Palaeontology in the third dimension: A comprehensive guide for the integration of three-dimensional content in publications: Paläontologische Zeitschrift, v. 88, p. 111121, DOI: 10.1007/s12542-013-0184-2.
Lautenschlager, S., and Rücklin, M., 2014, Beyond the print-virtual paleontology in science publishing, outreach and education: Journal of Paleontology, v. 88, p. 727734, DOI: 10.1666/13-085.
Lebrun, R., 2014, ISE-MeshTools: A set of tools for editing, positioning, deforming, labeling, measuring, and rendering sets of 3-D meshes: Montpellier, France, Association Palaeovertebrata, (accessed 3 February 2016).
Linnaeus, C., 1758, Systema Naturae per Regna tria Naturae, secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentis, Synonymis, Locis, 10th ed.: Stockholm, Sweden, Laurentii, Slavi, 824 p.
Losano, F., Marinsek, G., Merlo, A.M., and Ricci, M., 1999, Computed tomography in the automotive field: Development of a new engine head case study, in DGZfP Proceedings, Computerized Tomography for Industrial Applications and Image Processing in Radiology, March 15–17 m 1999, Berlin, Germany: Berlin, Germany, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfung e.V., BB67-CD, p. 65–73.
MeshLab, 2005, MeshLab: A processing system for 3D triangular meshes: La Jolla, California, Sourceforge Media, (accessed 20 February 2016).
Murienne, J., Ziegler, A., and Ruthensteiner, B., 2008, A 3D revolution in communicating science: Nature, v. 453, p. 450, DOI: 10.1038/453450d.
Peeters, F., Verbeeten, B. Jr., and Venema, H.W., 1979, Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology 1979 for A.M. Cormack and G.N. Hounsfield: Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde, v. 123, p. 21922193.
Ponchio, F., 2009, Multiresolution structures for interactive visualization of very large 3D datasets [Ph.D. thesis]: Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany, Clausthal University of Technology, 107 p.
Potenziani, M., Callieri, M., Dellepiane, M., Corsini, M., Ponchio, F., and Scopigno, R., 2015, 3DHOP: 3D Heritage Online Presenter, p. 129141, DOI: 10.1016/j.cag.2015.07.001.
Ramdarshan, A., Godinot, M., Bédécarrats, S., and Tabuce, R., 2015, Holotype specimen of Donrussellia magna, an adapiform primate from the early Eocene (MP7) of southern France: MorphoMuseuM, v. 1, no. 2, p. e2, DOI: 10.18563/m3.1.2.e2.
Rowe, T., and Frank, L.R., 2011, The disappearing third dimension: Science, v. 331, p. 712714, DOI: 10.1126/science.1202828.
Shiraishi, N., Katayama, A., Nakashima, T., Shiraki, N., Yamada, S., Kose, K., and Takakuwa, T., 2015a, 3D models related to the publication: Morphology of the human embryonic brain and ventricles: MorphoMuseuM, v. 1, no. 3, p. e3, DOI: 10.18563/m3.1.3.e3.
Shiraishi, N., Katayama, A., Nakashima, T., Yamada, S., Uwabe, C., Kose, K., and Takakuwa, T, 2015b, Morphology and morphometry of the human embryonic brain: A three-dimensional analysis: NeuroImage, v. 115, p. 96103, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.04.044.
Sketchfab, 2012, Sketchfab: A platform to publish and find 3-D and VR content: New York, Sketchfab, (accessed 11 February 2016).
Spitzak, B., 1998–2015, FLTK: Fast Light Toolkit: A cross-platform C++ GUI toolkit for UNIX/Linux (X11), Microsoft Windows, and MacOS X: Seriss Corporation, (accessed 3 February 2016).
Spoor, C.F., 1993, The comparative morphology and phylogeny of the human bony labyrinth [Ph.D. thesis]: Utrecht, The Netherlands, Utrecht University, 145 p.
Suter, S.K., Guitián, J.A.I., Marton, F., Agus, M., Elsener, A., Zollikofer, C.P.E., Gopi, M., Gobbetti, E., and Pajarola, R., 2011, Interactive multiscale tensor reconstruction for multiresolution volume visualization: IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, v. 17, p. 21352143, DOI: 10.1109/TVCG.2011.214.
Suter, S.K., Makhynia, M., and Pajarola, R., 2013, TAMRESH—Tensor Approximation Multiresolution Hierarchy for interactive volume visualization: Computer Graphics Forum, v. 32, p. 151160, DOI: 10.1111/cgf.12102.
Walter, T., Shattuck, D.W., Baldock, R., Bastin, M.E., Carpenter, A.E., Duce, S., Ellenberg, J., Fraser, A., Hamilton, N., Pieper, S., Ragan, M.A., Schneider, J.E., Tomancak, P., and Hériché, J.-K., 2010, Visualization of image data from cells to organisms: Nature Methods, v. 7, p. S26S41, DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1431.
Wind, J., 1984, Computerized X-ray tomography of fossil hominid skulls: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, v. 63, p. 265282, DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1330630303.
Zhexi, L., and Ketten, D.R., 1991, CT scanning and computerized reconstructions of the inner ear of multituberculate mammals: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, v. 11, p. 220228.
Ziegler, A., Mietchen, D., Faber, C., von Hausen, W., Schöbel, C., Sellerer, M., and Ziegler, A., 2011, Effectively incorporating selected multimedia content into medical publications: BMC Medicine, v. 9, p. 17, DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-9-17.
Ziegler, A., Ogurreck, M., Steinke, T., Beckmann, F., Prohaska, S., and Ziegler, A., 2010, Opportunities and challenges for digital morphology: Biology Direct, v. 5, p. 45, DOI: 10.1186/1745-6150-5-45.
Zonneveld, F.W., and Wind, J., 1985, High-resolution computed tomography of fossil hominid skulls: a new method and some results, in Tobias, P.V., ed., Hominid Evolution, Past, Present and Future: New York, Alan R. Liss, p. 427736.
ZURB, 1998–2016, Foundation: A front-end framework for software design: Campbell, California, ZURB, (accessed 20 February 2016).

Related content

Powered by UNSILO


  • Renaud Lebrun (a1) and Maëva J. Orliac (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.