New project to scan vertebrate diversity across thousands of samples

Science reports on a new initiative to provide 3D scan data on thousands of vertebrates: New 3D scanning campaign will reveal 20,000 animals in stunning detail.

Then last year David Blackburn, a herpetologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, saw Summers's #scanAllFish hashtag on Twitter and light-heartedly countered that he would "scan all frogs." Blackburn had just chatted with museum curators about starting a new digitization effort, so he also called Summers. They decided to up the ante and seek money to "scan it all." Now they have $2.5 million in National Science Foundation funding in hand, and on 1 September they will launch their project: oVert, for "Open Exploration of Vertebrate Diversity in 3D." Many scientists simply know it as the "scan-all-vertebrates" project.

The project, “oVert”, will deposit scans of museum specimens onto the MorphoSource site, so that people can download and use them. This is a tremendous win for open access science, and for the value of the MorphoSource repository.

Can you imagine the projects that will be fueled by this dataset? Amazing. It will become an essential morphological research tool–probably setting a new standard. And it will enable massive educational projects.

This is such an effective expenditure of money, and I wish that other NSF-funded projects would follow this model!