Natural History Specimens Have never Been so Accessible
Published:10 May2024    Source:University of Texas at Arlington

With the help of 16 grants from the National Science Foundation, researchers have painstakingly taken computed topography (CT) scans of more than 13,000 individual specimens to create 3D images of more than half of all the world's animal groups, including mammals, fishes, amphibians and reptiles.

The research team, made of members from The University of Texas at Arlington and 25 other institutions, are now a quarter of the way through inputting nearly 30,000 media files to the open-source repository MorphoSource. This will help reduce wear and tear on many rare specimens while increasing access to them at the same time.
In the next phase of the research project, the team will be creating sophisticated tools to analyze the data collected. Since researchers have never had digital access to so many 3D natural history specimens before, it will take further developments in machine learning and supercomputing to use them to their full potential.