The inside story on 20,000 vertebrates

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Science  25 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6353, pp. 742-743
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6353.742

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Scientists have a plan to image the morphology and internal anatomy of all vertebrates. A National Science Foundation–funded project aims to run 20,000 preserved vertebrate specimens from university and museum collections through computerized tomography, or CT scans, over the next 4 years. Scientists from the 16 participating institutions hope the museum digitization effort will form the backbone of future research in fields such as developmental biology, evolution, and biomimetics. The project, known as oVert for “Open Exploration of Vertebrate Diversity in 3D,” or informally as the “scan all vertebrates” project, will cover about 80% of living vertebrate genera. A subset of scans—covering most vertebrate families—will illuminate soft tissue anatomy of muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and more using an iodine dye to enhance contrast.