Digitising Darwin’s Discoveries | Digital Collections Programme

3D Scanning Darwin's Fossil Mammals
3D laser scanning Darwin’s Fossil Mammals

In 2014, Professor Adrian Lister began research for his book on the fossils collected by Charles Darwin on the Voyage of the Beagle. As part of his research, Professor Lister began to document the complex histories of these specimens from their point of collection to the present day. It soon became clear that the mammalian specimens had not been adequately documented or revised in the 185 years since their initial publication. This has meant that they have not been included in most modern scientific studies. This is despite the fact that the majority of the specimens in this collection are ‘type’ specimens (the reference specimens for that species), essential for scientific study of these species.

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What is a Cetacean and why would you scan it? |Digital Collections Programme

Photograph of the skull of Northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) being 3D surface scanned.
Using our 3D handheld surface scanners to map the surface of a Northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus)

‘Cetacea’ is the collective order for all whales, dolphins and porpoises. We have more than 2,500 specimens in the Museum collection, at least 500 from the UK strandings programme. Cetaceans are great indicators of wider ocean health – if there’s a problem lower in the food chain, e.g. plastic pollution, it concentrates in cetaceans. If cetacean populations are healthy, so are our oceans. Continue reading “What is a Cetacean and why would you scan it? |Digital Collections Programme”

Digitising Malaysian species | Digital Collections Programme

In collaboration with the NGO Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia (ECOMY) we have begun a new digitisation project to digitise  the Museum’s collections that occur in Malaysia and its surrounding regions.

1) collage of specimens
This project will image specimens across a range of insect groups including stick insects, mantids, damselflies and crickets.

This project will image representatives for each species across a range of insect groups and will release the digitised specimens openly on the Museum’s Data Portal. In addition, we will be digitally sharing these specimens and their data to our Malaysian colleagues for use through their own online platforms.

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Crowdsourcing our data in 2017 | Digital Collections Programme

The Digital Collections Programme has completed four crowdsourcing projects in 2017. We wanted to say a massive thank-you to the 2,000+ volunteers who together have helped us to capture data from over 15,000 specimens this year. You have made a significant contribution to Science.

1) collage for blog
Crowdsourcing our data in 2017

We can digitally image individual microscope slides at a rate of up to 1000 slides per day, but we still need help with capturing the label information on each slide. Transcription is an essential part of our digitisation process.

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What’s the difference between a moth and a butterfly? | Digital Collections Programme

We are currently digitising the Madagascan Lepidoptera collection, a project that has been supported by John Franks and the Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust.

madagascan drawers
A drawer of Madagascan type specimens

The specimens imaged are ‘Types’ – specimens from which the relevant species was named and described.

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