Ants in 3D: project begins to image every known species

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Ants in 3D: project begins to image every known species

Post by johan »

Scientists are embarking on a mission to capture a 3D image of every ant species known to science. The US team is visiting museums around the world to photograph all of the ant specimens in their collections. They are using a technique that, for the first time, allows microscopic anatomical detail of the insects' bodies to be photographed. The aim is to make an online catalogue called Antweb, providing a unique tool for scientists who study the insects.

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Post by rjlittlefield »

Interesting article -- thanks for the link.

Viewing the video, it seems that they're using the term "3D" to mean focus stacked, so they can see all of the ant at one time. Quoting from Dr. Fisher's narration,
To take a picture of an ant that small, well it's hard. I actually have to take many pictures of the ant, through a microscope, taking each part that's in focus and creating a single mosaic at the end. So each of our images on Antweb is actually a mosaic of maybe 20 to 70 different images. So the advantage of these images is that it creates a final image almost in 3-D. You can zoom in and see incredible detail. These are large images; you can zoom in and see fine hair, the eyes, here. All this, actually, in a microscope is not in-focus, so it's actually the first time as a scientist I get to see this ant in 3-D.
Still, if they're saving their original stacks, 3D in the sense of synthetic stereo is easily produced later.


Craig Gerard
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Post by Craig Gerard »

Rik wrote:Still, if they're saving their original stacks, 3D in the sense of synthetic stereo is easily produced later.
They may not appreciate the relevance of keeping such files; best to make certain and send some form of communication.

I wonder if the Maserati featured at the beginning of the video was specified in the budget under 'travel' expenses. 8)

The Leica Microsystems Macroscope; it looks like they are using the DFC400 1.4mp camera? ... ca-dfc400/ ... croscopes/

A similar project using different equipment: (Len, thanks for the link) ... ied+images

To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

Eric F
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Post by Eric F »

Antweb is actually a project that has been ongoing for some years (see <>), though maybe the part about adding the BMNH ant collection is new (?). Rick is exactly right: the project is based on stacking procedures quite familiar to our group. The scope of Antweb is amazing, in that the incredible diversity of the ant family Formicidae (over 8,000 species and growing -- as new ones are continually being described) is displayed in wonderful detail. However, individual stacked images in Antweb often are of modest quality in comparison to some of the efforts shown by contributors to Photomacrography.

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