Megafauna 3D is an online platform that invites you to discover the giant mammals that inhabited South America thousands of years ago. It is a fossil digitization initiative, a collection of 3D models and a series of didactic and interactive activities based in paleontology. Some of the animals found in this site are a few giant sloths, a saber-toothed tiger and some glyptodonts, who are relatives of the living armadillos. All these animals inhabited Uruguay and the rest of South America during the Pleistocene, even living alongside humans.

Created in Montevideo, Uruguay, this project involves paleontologists, designers and programmers and will grow over time, by adding new 3D models to the collection. The scans and 3D reconstructions were done by paleontologists from Facultad de Ciencias, UdelaR. The tridimensional models have been scanned from specimens found in Uruguay, belonging to the fossil collections of “Arroyo del Vizcaíno” (Canelones), “Museo Paleontológico Armando Calcaterra” (Colonia), “Museo Paleontológico de Dolores” (Soriano) and “Museo de Historia Natural Dr. Carlos A. Torres de la Llosa” (Montevideo).

Megafauna 3D is an initiative by the Paleobiology Lab at Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República (Fcien), and has the financial support of the Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación (ANII).


The vast majority of the digitized fossils belong to the Arroyo del Vizcaíno collection, a paleontological site located in Sauce, Canelones, Uruguay. This site tells the story of extinct giant mammals, with the distinctiveness of much earlier than expected human presence. The discovery of the fossils was made by the people of Sauce in 1997, and now the research is led by a team of paleontologists from Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República. The collection has more than 1,000 fossils of 30,000-year-old extinct animals among which are the saber-toothed tiger Smilodon, the giant sloths Lestodon, Glossotherium and Mylodon, the ungulate Toxodon, the mastodon Stegomastodon, and some other remains of fossil horses and deer. | | @arroyovizcaino

To complement the Arroyo del Vizcaíno fossil collection and have a better representation of the extinct megafauna, the team scanned fossils from other Uruguayan museums and collections, such as the  “Museo Paleontológico Armando Calcaterra” in Colonia, the “Museo Paleontológico de Dolores” in Soriano, the “Museo de Historia Natural Dr. Carlos A. Torres de la Llosa” and the “Museo Nacional de Historia Natural” in Montevideo.

The Team

Sebastián Tambusso (Paleontologist)
Luciano Varela (Paleontologist)
Richard Fariña (Paleontologist)
Santiago Patiño (Paleontologist)
Martín Batallés (Museum Technician)
Gabriela Costoya (Web development)
Maximiliano Fernández (System architecture)
Mariana Di Giacomo (Translations)

Web design and development: venado
Paleoart: Mauro Muyano

We are located at Facultad de Ciencias, in Montevideo, Uruguay  (Iguá 4225 esquina Mataojo, piso 13 ala Sur).
If you have any doubts or you want to know more about megafauna, if you have ideas to improve this site or if you simply want to say hi, write us at
(Sometimes we are a bit slow, but we try to answer every message)

Montevideo, Uruguay, 2016


The vast majority of the three-dimensional models were generated using structured light. This technique allows for the digital reconstruction of an object’s shape by projecting a light pattern – generally made of consecutive lines – onto the object and capturing the data with a digital camera. Some other models were captured using photogrammetry, a technique in which many digital photographs of the specimen are taken from different angles, and then processed by a computer software to generate a reconstruction.

The remaining models were obtained from CT scans. This technique is widely used in the medical field to observe the inside of the human body, but it is also very useful to create digital reconstructions from fossils.


The software DAVID 3D was used in the digitization by structured light, while Agisoft PhotoScan was employed for the specimens scanned with photogrammetry. The CT scans were processed with 3D Slicer. The postproduction was done with Meshlab.

The 3D models’ format is Nexus and the online visualization is done with 3DHop. The website is powered by WordPress, and the fonts Bizon and Teen were used in its design.

Silhouettes of pampatherium, thylacosmilus and megalonyx by Zimices, under CC BY-NC 3.0 license, and glyptodon image used in the front page by Arent, under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

This site is hosted in servers belonging to Facultad de Ciencias (UdelaR).

Some texts in this website were modified from Megafauna (by Richard Fariña, Mariana Di Giacomo & Mauro Muyano. 2010. Montevideo: Fin de Siglo), Hace sólo diez mil años (by Richard Fariña & Sergio Vizcaíno. 2009. 6ª Edition (with DVD). Montevideo: Fin de Siglo) and Megafauna: Giant Beasts of Pleistocene South America (Fariña, Vizcaíno & De Iuliis).

Jacquelinne Prochet (Museo de Historia Natural Dr. Carlos A. Torres de la Llosa)
Staff from Museo Paleontológico Armando Calcaterra
Marcos Ríos and Lorena Díaz (Museo Paleontológico de Dolores)
Andrés Rinderknecht (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural)
Magdalena Muttoni and Facundo De Almeida (Museo de Arte Precolombino e Indígena)
Enrique Latorres (IT Manager, Facultad de Ciencias)
Camila de los Santos, Ximena Martínez, Valeria Rodríguez, Ángeles Beri, Leticia Tejera.