Universities and museums join in effort to ‘scan all vertebrates’

Read the full story at TechCrunch.

It seems that even scientific endeavors fall victim to feature creep — or in the case of an effort to scan all fishes that has expanded to include all vertebrates, creature creep. More than a dozen learning institutions are pooling their resources to create detailed 3D scans, inside and out, of more than 20,000 animals.

The undertaking could be said to have started more than 20 years ago, when Adam Summers, a dedicated biologist at the University of Washington, began his quest to scan every fish in the sea. What may have been considered eccentric then can only be called essential now: new ways of digitizing and sharing scientific data are sprouting up everywhere, and Summers’ prescient work has spurred other experts to attempt the same.

David Blackburn at the Florida Museum of Natural History decided he’d attempt to scan all frogs (his own specialty) to complement Summers’ collection. But after it became clear others wanted to contribute in kind, they decided to seek real funding and just scan everything. Every vertebrate, anyway — if you wanted to scan every arthopod, jelly, and so on, the task grows by an order of magnitude (or two).

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