Settlers pouring into Illinois drove large carnivores like Black Bears, Cougars, and Wolves from Illinois by the mid to late 1800s. The skull of a Cougar (Puma concolor), pictured here with a replica created by 3D scanning and printing, was found dead in Randolph County in 2000 after it had been hit by a train. This was the first record of a Cougar confirmed in Illinois since the species was extirpated more than a century before. When an animal is no longer found in a particular state or region but persists elsewhere, it is considered extirpated but not extinct.
Sightings of large carnivores are still rare, but young males can disperse long distances from where they were born in their quest for new territory and a mate. Scientists can test the animal’s DNA to determine where it came from. Other clues, such as the condition of the feet, can tell us if the animal was wild or had possibly escaped from captivity.
Three-dimensional (3D) scanning and printing can allow us to produce copies of popular artifacts so they can be handled and closely examined by the public. They can be shared on the internet and printed by users across Illinois and beyond. The printed copy also can be painted to more closely match the original. As we become more proficient at the use of this technology, we will better be able to creatively share and provide access to objects in the Museum’s Illinois Legacy Collection.