There are about 25,000 species of fish in the world. Adam Summers, biology and aquatic and fishery sciences processor at the University of Washington (UW), is planning on scanning and digitizing every single one. The finished product will be a free, downloadable, high-resolution, 3-D replica of each species of fish.
To digitize the fish, Summers uses a small computerized tomography (CT) scanner similar to CT scanners used in hospitals. (He used to actually use scanners in hospitals, but this smaller version lives in his lab, which is much easier and less expensive in the long run.) The scanner takes a series of X-ray images from different angles and combines them, creating a seamless 3-D image.
“These scans are transforming the way we think about 3-D data and accessibility,” Summers said in a news release.
While the images are certainly fun to look at, they also have a very practical application. One of the goals of this project is to help scientists be better able to examine the skeletal structures of fish to understand why certain groups share certain physical characteristics.
So far, Summers and his team have scanned about 515 species, many of which are posted online. He expects to finish the remaining 24,500+ species in less than three years.
To learn more:
- Read the UW news release: UW professor is digitizing every fish species in the world
- Check out the collection on the Open Science Framework.
Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.