type specimen images

Richard L. Brown moth at RA.MSSTATE.EDU
Thu Oct 12 15:30:39 CDT 1995

>I think online images of specimens have a place (without saying what that
>is), so I'm not arguing here against such. But, I guess I'd like to think
>that there's a lot more to it than "general form of types". Is there?

The technology is here to answer yes to Peter's question, at least for some
taxa. Confocal microscopes are probably at the same level of development
and availabity as SEMs were at in the early 1970s, and it should be only a
matter of time until they become a standard tool for many systematists.
Although these may not be suitable for providing images of whole or large
specimens, as being done by Shawn Landry for plants, certainly their use
for imaging smaller structures that either reflect light or emit
flourescent light will augment or provide more information than
examinations of the actual specimen.  This will especially be true for
insect genitalia, which both reflect and flouresce light, or any other
chitinous arthropod.  As we are obtaining a confocal at our university, I
just went through a demonstration of one company's scope that imaged moth
genitalia that were slide mounted in Canada balsalm.  The confocal can take
images every two microns (or more) from the top to bottom and then
reconstruct the photo-sections to provide a flat or 3-D image (with
resolution comparable to SEM at lower magnifications).  The stored data
from all the sections can then be compiled and used to provide an image at
any level of the structure or a movie or photo of the whole genitalia as it
rotates, allowing one to see areas of the genitalia that are obscured by
overlaying structures.  Thus the genitalia can be examined, measured,
photographed in 3-D from all orientations instead of just the one in the
slide mount. In addition, the data for the images can be shipped by
ethernet, stored, webbed, etc.   In addition to routine use for anatomical
descriptions, the confocal should become a standard aid for examining and
photographing types either with various structures in situ or dissected and
slide mounted.  Further, the specimen or slide could be imaged at its
repository, and the data shipped to the person wanting to examine the type.

Richard Brown

Richard L. Brown
Mississippi Entomological Museum
Box 9775
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
ph: 601-325-2085
FAX: 601-325-8837
email: moth at ra.msstate.edu

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