|The TM 1517a fossil, from here|
Jean Jacques Hublin has a commentary  in the current issue of Nature, about making fossils available for scanning, digital replication, and ultimately hopefully open dissemination. As Hublin points out, it’s a bit ridiculous that a fossil is a rare enough thing as it is, but even after their discovery, fossils “can become unreachable relics once they are in storage.” Fortunately, Hublin goes on to point to online collections that are available to anyone interested. Somewhat ironically, the article about free-ish data is behind a paywall, so here are the resources Hublin describes:
- The Ditsong CT Archive, created by the collaboration of Hublin’s group at Max Planck and the Ditsong (formerly Transvaal) Museum in South Africa, which contains digitized hominin fossils from the site of Kromdraai (see also [ref 2]). Check out the type specimen of Paranthropus robustus, from this site, above!
- You can download CT scans of the Skhul V early human fossil, thanks to the Harvard Peabody Museum.
- Wanna see the the oldest possible animal embryos, early humans, insects, and other crazy fossils? Check out the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility’s microCT database.
- Get free CT scans of 2 human skulls, thanks to the Virtual Anthropology program at the University of Vienna.
- Finally, the NESPOS initiative is a large repository of Pleistocene hominin fossil scans, which I somehow don’t know enough about.
In addition to these sources, here are 2 other datasets that are pretty badass:
- As I’ve pointed out before, the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University has a very impressive collection of primate CT scans on their website. You can manipulate & look inside the 3D images online, and potentially download the original scans (although I’ve not had luck with registering with them).
- The American Association of Orthodontists Foundation has published several sets of X-rays from longitudinal studies of craniofacial growth. It’s quite a remarkable and useful collection for both research and teaching.
 Hublin, J. (2013). Palaeontology: Free digital scans of human fossils Nature, 497 (7448), 183-183 DOI: 10.1038/497183a
 Skinner MM, Kivell TL, Potze S, & Hublin JJ (2013). Microtomographic archive of fossil hominin specimens from Kromdraai B, South Africa. Journal of human evolution, 64 (5), 434-47 PMID: 23541384