Museum Specimens Find New Life Online
For centuries, scientists who wanted to study a particular type specimen had to visit the museum where it is kept or have the specimen sent to them. Either way, the potential for damage was high: fragile body parts would sometimes fall off during inspection or transport, causing irreparable damage.
Each type specimen is “like the Mona Lisa,” said Katja Seltmann, a biologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York who specializes in biodiversity informatics. “If an antenna or a leg breaks, all of a sudden, a really large part of information about that organism is gone.”