One professor’s quest to 3D scan every fish in the sea

If you were wondering what a mottled sculpin looks like, there are plenty of pictures available online. But while they may satisfy a curious tidepooler, the discerning ichthyologist demands more. That’s why a professor at the University of Washington is getting full 3D scans of every fish in the sea — every species of fish, anyway.

With a $340,000 CT scanner, a few lab assistants and a whole lot of fish, Adam Summers wants to build a complete catalog of the more than 25,000 types of fish out there. This isn’t some new mania: he’s been scanning fish since the 1990s, and knows the scientific benefits of this kind of data.

Having digital models accurate to (say) the millimeter allows for instant, exact comparisons between species, or among several of the same species — you…

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