Popular Science

June 11, 2012

Gallery: Ambitious Insect Catalog Snaps 3-D Images of Every Ant Species

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A global effort to photograph every species of ant on this planet is embarking on an international tour, stopping by museums and scientific collections in the United Kingdom. With thousands of American ant species already accounted for, now Brian Fisher and colleagues at the California Academy of Sciences are taking AntWeb overseas.

Click to launch the photo gallery

As species cataloging efforts go, AntWeb is fairly ambitious — not only will every species of ant be counted, but it will be photographed in high resolution, its every hair, proboscis, antenna and eye rendered in great detail.

As of May of 2012, AntWeb contained 77,510 ant images, comprising 18,508 specimens representing more than 8,304 species. The goal is to capture 10,000 images a year, according to the BBC. Click through to our gallery to see some of them.

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Science, Rebecca Boyle, 3-D, ants, insects, microphotography, natural history museums, Photography, speciesEvery species will be represented, which is a massive undertaking because of the many morphological differences among individual ant castes. Queens, workers, soldiers, and ants of different ages may all look very different, despite belonging to the same species. The Natural History Museum of London is the first overseas stop, as the BBC reports.

More ants are being added all the time — dozens were added on Monday alone. Visit AntWeb to see the whole collection.

[BBC]

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