A cat's head carving from a famous Dumbarton-built sailing ship has joined some of the world’s most incredible historic artefacts, fossils and works of art on an innovative 3D website.

The carving, which is held at the Scottish Maritime Museum's Denny Tank, can be seen on the Sketchfab site along with items such as the Apollo 11 Columbia command module, a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull and a fourth century BC sculpture.

The little cat was taken from the famous clipper Cutty Sark when some of the ship's beams were removed as part of restoration work.

It was gifted to the museum from the Cutty Sark Trust in 1987,

Through the innovative open access initiative on the Sketchfab website, everyone, from artists, filmmakers and teachers through to hobbyists and students, can download, manipulate and use 1,700 3D scans commercially or non-commercially for free and without seeking permission or giving credit.

In addition to the cat's head, The Scottish Maritime Museum has shared 3D models and 360° virtual tours of almost 50 of Scotland’s most important historic vessels, maritime artefacts and shipbuilding tools.

The museum began creating the 3D scans last year through Scanning the Horizon, a project to help preserve and increase public access to Scotland’s national maritime heritage collection.

The museum is one of the first of its size in Scotland to embark on a major 3D scanning project to digitalise a whole collection.

Cultural organisations in 13 countries who contributed scans include the Smithsonian Institute in the USA, the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life at the Paleontological Research Institution and Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Museum chief David Mann said: “We are excited to officially launch our new and growing collection of 3D scans and virtual tours as part of the worldwide Sketchfab initiative and also on our own website as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters celebrations.

“Digital advances like this help our curators preserve and monitor the objects in our care and enable us to engage audiences with our outstanding maritime heritage collection in fresh and dynamic new ways.”

Marta Pilarska, 3D digitisation project manager at the museum, said: “We’re really excited to make the vast majority of our 3D collections downloadable.

“So, we’re asking all those who may be interested in playing with this data to tag us on social media (@scotmaritime) and use #ScanningTheHorizon so we can see their amazing projects!”

The museum’s 3D models and virtual tours can be found online at scottishmaritimemuseum.org and at sketchfab.com

The Cutty Sark was built on the River Leven in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line.

One of the last tea clippers, and one of the fastest, she is now an award-winning visitor attraction at Greenwich, London.