Soon(ish) we’ll have 3D scans of every fish species in the world

Written by on July 27, 2016 in Fish, Marine Life

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.

Scalyhead Sculpin (Artedius harringtoni). Image courtesy of Open Science Framework.

Scalyhead Sculpin (Artedius harringtoni). Image courtesy of Open Science Framework.

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:

One of the many scanned species, Sligjaw Wrasse (Epibulus insidiator). Image courtesy of Open Science Framework.

One of the many scanned species, Sligjaw Wrasse (Epibulus insidiator). Image courtesy of Open Science Framework.

Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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