European Natural Science collections contain around 1.5 billion specimens representing an estimated 55% of global collections and 80% of the worlds bio- and geo-diversity. Data derived from these collections underpin countless innovations, including tens of thousands of scholarly publications, products critical to our bio-economy, databases, maps and descriptions of scientific observations. Continue reading “Uniting Europe’s 1.5 billion specimens | Digital Collection Programme”
Comparing the surviving fossil mammal specimens collected by Charles Darwin during the Voyage of the Beagle with original drawings and casts of the specimens from 1837-1840, it is clear that some have sustained significant damage in the 185 years since they were collected.
Guest blog by Adrian Lister
When I first joined the Museum as a fossil mammal researcher in 2007, I received a set of keys that gave me access to much of the museum’s huge collection. Browsing one day, I opened an unremarkable cupboard and was startled to find six shelves of fossil bones with a sign reading ‘Charles Darwin, Beagle Voyage’. Continue reading “Darwin’s fossil mammals: discoveries that sparked the theory of evolution | Digital Collections Programme”
The Museum’s Digital Collections Programme (DCP) was represented at a recent John Ellerman funded Strategy Workshop for UK collections at M Shed in Bristol. The event, coordinated by Isla Gladstone of Bristol City Council Culture Team, brought together a range professionals from across UK museums and related sectors including the UK biological recording community, policy specialists, the BBC Natural History unit and informaticians to discuss the development of a coordinated approach to digitising UK regional museum collections. Continue reading “Borderless Collections – Starting a Collections Community (R)evolution | Digital Collections Programme”
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.
‘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”
Sir Joseph Banks, Born 24 February 1743 was a collector of natural history specimens. He was an avid botanist and his collection included a significant collection of insects. Continue reading “Bringing Joseph Banks into the 21st Century | Digital Collection 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.
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.
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.
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.
To commemorate the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute turning 25 in 2018, the Institute and its collaborators are sequencing 25 new genomes of species that reside in the UK and represent the richness of species in this country. Continue reading “Sequencing genomes with the Museum’s Frozen Collection | Digital Collections Programme”