Listen to prehistory
Designer Marguerite Humeau has spent the past year reconstructing the vocal chords of prehistoric creatures to work out what they sounded like.
Humeau graduated from the Royal College of Art’s interactive design course last year, and for her degree show presented to reconstruction of the vocal tract of the Mammoth Imperator or Imperial Mammoth, which died out around 11 000 years ago.
Since graduating, she has added to her collection of vocal models, with the Ambulocetus (Walking Whale, which died out around 48 million years ago) and the Entelodont (the brilliantly named Terminator Pig, which died out some 5 million years ago). You can listen to the cacophony made by the three creatures here.
Humeau’s Jurassic Park-esque task was far from easy, as vocal chords are made from soft tissue, so there are no fossils of them. The only things still existing were fossils of the surrounding bone areas – everything inside had to be reconstructed.
Humeau worked to replicate the sounds through research and consulting experts including palaeontologists, ear nose and throat specialists, vets and engineers.
Then – working with a team including sound designers Julien Bloit and Charles Goyard and 3D modellers Hong Yeul Eom, Clifford Sage and Ben Penna, she created a series of models of the creatures’ skulls – complete with windpipes, larynx’s and vocal chords. By forcing air through the vocal tracts, Humeau is able to recreate the pitch and sound of the dinosaurs – sounds not heard for millions of years:
The project - called Proposal for Resuscitating Prehistoric Creatures - is currently on display in Saint-Etienne, France, as part of the Politique Fiction exhibition, with visitors able to experience the sound of the extinct beasts first hand.
Politique Fiction is at Cité du Design, Saint-Etienne, France, until 6 January 2013.