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AW: The myth of coding from specimens firsthand and the untapped resource of photos



> I'd be willing to throw my (distributable) photos into such
> a project if someone were to set it up.  The primary
> obstacle besides getting museum permission would be the huge
> storage space, but it could probably even be done on Flickr
> or Picasa.  What does everyone think?

I'd completely support such work, though my contributions typically would have 
skin and feathers still attached (of these I have a few 100s already; if the 
opportunity exists I tend to photo anything that might be interesting and often 
the specimens next to it too). Crown Theropoda bones might be of interest to 
many paleontologists however, and I presume I'll be seeing quite a lot of these 
(Recent and fossil) in the next years.

Such a database would also be an invaluable aid in the digitization of 
specimens. I have noted that e.g. GBIF, but also similar databases, have a 
major problem with accuracy and nonverifiability of label information (e.g. 
"S[an]" misread and databased as "South"). Label photos would completely solve 
this problem. To think further, the public at large could thus assist with 
databasing collections, decreasing the cost for collecting institutions (which 
may be prohibitive, at about 1 US$/€ per speimen in a 100% in-house approach). 
You may have noted that reCAPTCHA is already being exploited by spammers. 
Transcription of handwriting as CAPTCHA will be somewhat tougher to program 
than for printed text, but it can be done, and handwriting recognition is 
something that AI algorithms are likely to fail at routinely for a long time to 
come.

Does a good online howto for osteological specimen photography exist for cases 
where ammonium chloride is not an option?


Thanks in advance,

Eike